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Hemoglobin Electrophoresis

How It Feels

The blood sample is taken from a vein in your arm. An elastic band is wrapped around your upper arm. It may feel tight. You may feel nothing at all from the needle, or you may feel a quick sting or pinch.

Risks

There is very little chance of a problem from having a blood sample taken from a vein.

  • You may get a small bruise at the site. You can lower the chance of bruising by keeping pressure on the site for several minutes.
  • In rare cases, the vein may become swollen after the blood sample is taken. This problem is called phlebitis. A warm compress can be used several times a day to treat this.
  • Ongoing bleeding can be a problem for people with bleeding disorders. Aspirin, warfarin (Coumadin), and other blood-thinning medicines can make bleeding more likely. If you have bleeding or clotting problems, or if you take blood-thinning medicine, tell your doctor before your blood sample is taken.

Results

A hemoglobin electrophoresis test is a blood test done to check the different types of hemoglobin in the blood. Results are ready in several days.

Normal

The normal values listed here—called a reference range—are just a guide. These ranges vary from lab to lab, and your lab may have a different range for what's normal. Your lab report should contain the range your lab uses. Also, your doctor will evaluate your results based on your health and other factors. This means that a value that falls outside the normal values listed here may still be normal for you or your lab.

Hemoglobin electrophoresis1

Hemoglobin A1:

96.5%–98.5% of total hemoglobin or 0.96–0.985 mass fraction

Hemoglobin A2:

1.5%–3.5% of total hemoglobin or 0.015–0.035 mass fraction

Hemoglobin F:

0%–1% of total hemoglobin or 0–0.01 mass fraction

Abnormal hemoglobin types:

None

High and low values

  • Higher-than-normal amounts of both hemoglobin A2 and hemoglobin F may mean a mild form of thalassemia is present. A very low level of hemoglobin A and a high level of hemoglobin F may mean a more severe form of thalassemia. High levels of hemoglobin F may be seen in a rare condition called hereditary persistence of fetal hemoglobin.
  • Hemoglobin S in moderate amounts can mean that sickle cell trait is present. Hemoglobin S in high amounts means sickle cell disease.
  • Hemoglobin C in low amounts can mean that hemoglobin C trait is present. Hemoglobin C in high amounts means hemoglobin C disease, which causes anemia and an enlarged spleen.
  • Hemoglobin types S and C mean hemoglobin S-C disease, which causes a mild or moderate form of sickle cell disease.
  • Hemoglobin E in low amounts means the presence of hemoglobin E trait. Hemoglobin E in high amounts means hemoglobin E disease, which causes anemia and smaller-than-normal red blood cells.
  • Hemoglobin types other than S, C, D, and E are rare. But over 350 types of abnormal hemoglobin have been found.1

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: May 29, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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