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Immunofixation - blood

Serum immunofixation is a lab test to identify proteins called immunoglobulins in blood. Too much of the same immunoglobulin is usually due to cancer.

Alternative Names

Serum immunofixation

How the test is performed

A blood sample is needed. For information on how this is done, see: Venipuncture

Immunofixation uses antibodies to identify the types of proteins or antibodies separated by protein electrophoresis .

How to prepare for the test

There is no special preparation for this test.

How the test will feel

When the needle is inserted to draw blood, some people feel moderate pain, while others feel only a prick or stinging sensation. Afterward, there may be some throbbing.

Why the test is performed

This test is most often used to check the levels of certain antibodies associated with multiple myeloma and Waldenstrom's macroglobulinemia .Those antibodies include IgG , IgM , IgA , lambda light chain forms, and kappa light chain forms.

Immunofixation has also been used to study changes in protein structure (for example, glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase ), and in the genetic typing of alpha-1 antitrypsin .

Normal Values

A normal or negative result means no monclonal immunglobulins are seen in the blood sample.

What abnormal results mean

An abnormal result may be due to:

  • Amyloidosis
  • Leukemia
  • Lymphoma
  • Monoclonal gammopathy of unknown significance
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Waldenstrom's macroglobulinemia
  • Other cancers

What the risks are

There is very little risk involved with having your blood taken. Veins and arteries vary in size from one patient to another and from one side of the body to the other. Taking blood from some people may be more difficult than from others.

Other risks associated with having blood drawn are slight but may include:

  • Excessive bleeding
  • Fainting or feeling lightheaded
  • Hematoma (blood accumulating under the skin)
  • Infection (a slight risk any time the skin is broken)

References

McPherson RA, Massey HD. Laboratory evaluation ofimmunoglobulin function and humoral immunity. In McPherson RA, Pincus MR, eds. Henry's Clinical Diagnosis and Management by Laboratory Methods. 22nd ed. Philadelphia,Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 46.

Perry MC. Plasma cell disorders. In Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 193.

Updated: 6/5/2012

David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; Yi-Bin Chen, MD, Leukemia/Bone Marrow Transplant Program, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.


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