Newly Diagnosed Patients:
What is Electrophoresis?
With electrophoresis, a sample of serum (the fluid that separates from blood after it has been allowed to clot) or urine is placed in a special paper that is treated with a gel. An electric current is applied to the gel, causing proteins in the sample to move across the gel to different points. The gel is then stained and placed in a special machine that produces a tracing that indicates the levels of proteins (top of figure). Myeloma is characterized by a large increase in M protein, which appears as a “spike” on the tracing. This spike occurs because the molecules of M proteins are identical in size and they therefore all moved to the same point on the gel. In individuals who do not have myeloma, the spike is much lower and broader (dotted line).