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Interpreting protein electrophoresis in practice

Abstract

Protein electrophoresis is an inexpensive tool that is widely available to the practitioner for the investigation of hyperglobulinaemias. Distinguishing polyclonal (ie, inflammatory) gammopathies from monoclonal gammopathies (ie, those due principally to the production of immunoglobulins by a neoplastic clone of B-cells) is obviously of paramount importance. Interpretation of electrophoresis traces is straightforward in most cases. While an interpretative comment from a clinical pathologist will usually accompany the trace if it is performed at a reference laboratory, it is preferable that the primary clinician – who will have greater knowledge of the entire clinical context – can understand the data being provided. To this end, this article aims to equip clinicians in practice with the necessary tools.

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