article is reprinted from Kaiser Permanente Web Site
A hemoglobin electrophoresis test is a blood test done to evaluate the different types of hemoglobin in the bloodstream. Hemoglobin is the substance in red blood cells that carries oxygen. See an illustration of hemoglobin .
The most common types of normal hemoglobin include:
More than 400 different types of abnormal hemoglobin have been identified, but the most common include:
Hemoglobin S and hemoglobin C are the most common types of abnormal hemoglobins that may be identified by an electrophoresis test.
Electrophoresis uses an electrical current to separate normal and abnormal types of hemoglobin in the blood because they have different electrical charges and move at different rates in the electrical current. The amount of each hemoglobin type is then measured.
Finding an abnormal amount of normal hemoglobin or an abnormal type of hemoglobin in the blood may indicate that a disease is present. Abnormal hemoglobin types may be present without any other findings, produce mild diseases that do not cause any symptoms, or cause diseases that can be life-threatening. For example, hemoglobin S is found in sickle cell anemia, which is a serious abnormality of the blood.
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