Hemoglobin Electrophoresis

Hemoglobin Electrophoresis

What is hemoglobin electrophoresis?

Hemoglobin is a protein in your red blood cells that carries oxygen from your lungs to the rest of your body. There are several different types of hemoglobin. Hemoglobin electrophoresis is a test that measures the different types of hemoglobin in the blood. It also looks for abnormal types of hemoglobin.

Normal types of hemoglobin include:

  • Hemoglobin (Hgb) A, the most common type of hemoglobin in healthy adults
  • Hemoglobin (Hgb) F, fetal hemoglobin. This type of hemoglobin is found in unborn babies and newborns. HgbF is replaced by HgbA shortly after birth.

If levels of HgbA or HgbF are too high or too low, it can indicate certain types of anemia.

Abnormal types of hemoglobin include:

  • Hemoglobin (Hgb) S. This type of hemoglobin is found in sickle cell disease. Sickle cell disease is an inherited disorder that causes the body to make stiff, sickle-shaped red blood cells. Healthy red blood cells are flexible so they can move easily through blood vessels. Sickle cells can get stuck in the blood vessels, causing severe and chronic pain, infections, and other complications.
  • Hemoglobin (Hgb) C. This type of hemoglobin does not carry oxygen well. It can cause a mild form of anemia.
  • Hemoglobin (Hgb) E. This type of hemoglobin is mostly found in people of Southeast Asian descent. People with HgbE usually have no symptoms or mild symptoms of anemia.

A hemoglobin electrophoresis test applies an electric current to a blood sample. This separates normal and abnormal types of hemoglobin. Each type of hemoglobin can then be measured individually.

Other names: Hb electrophoresis, hemoglobin evaluation, hemoglobinopathy evaluation, hemoglobin fractionation, Hb ELP, sickle cell screen