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Protein electrophoresis - urine

Definition

A urine protein electrophoresis is a test that estimates how much of certain proteins you have in your urine.

See also:

Alternative Names

Urine protein electrophoresis; UPEP

How the test is performed

A clean-catch (midstream) urine sample is needed.

Men or boys should first wipe clean the head of the penis. Women or girls need to wash the area between the lips of the vagina with soapy water and rinse well.

As you start to urinate, allow a small amount to fall into the toilet bowl (this clears the urethra of contaminants). Then, in a clean container, catch about 1 to 2 ounces of urine and remove the container from the urine stream. Give the container to the health care provider or assistant.

In infants, thoroughly wash the area around the urethra. Open a urine collection bag (a plastic bag with an adhesive paper on one end), and place it on your infant. For boys, the entire penis can be placed in the bag and the adhesive attached to the skin. For girls, the bag is placed over the labia. Place a diaper over the infant (bag and all).

Check your baby frequently and remove the bag after the infant has urinated into it. For active infants, this procedure may take a couple of attempts -- lively infants can displace the bag. The urine is drained into a container for transport back to the health care provider.

The laboratory specialist will place the urine sample on special paper and apply an electric current. The various proteins move and form visible bands, which reveal the general amounts of each protein.

How to prepare for the test

Your health care provider may tell you to stop taking certain medicines that could interfere with the test. Medicines that can affect test results include:

  • Chlorpromazine
  • Corticosteroids
  • Isoniazid
  • Neomycin
  • Phenacemide
  • Salicylates
  • Sulfonamides
  • Tolbutamide

Never stop taking any medication without first talking to your health care provider.

How the test will feel

This test involves only normal urination. There is no discomfort.

Why the test is performed

Only small amounts of protein are normally found in the urine. The presence of protein in the urine can be a sign of many different disorders.

Urine protein electrophoresis may be recommended to help determine the cause of protein in the urine, or as a screening test to measure the various proteins in urine. Urine protein electrophoresis detects two types of protein: albumin and globulins.

Normal Values

No significant amount of globulins in the urine. Urine albumin is less than 5 mg/dL.

Normal value ranges may vary slightly among different laboratories. Talk to your doctor about the meaning of your specific test results.

What abnormal results mean

What the risks are

There are no risks associated with this test.

References

McPherson RA, Massey HD. Laboratory evaluation of immunoglobulin function and humoral immunity. In McPherson RA, Pincus MR, eds. Henry's Clinical Diagnosis and Management by Laboratory Methods. 22nd ed. Philadelphia,Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 46.

Perry MC. Plasma cell disorders. In Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap193.


Review Date: 6/5/2012
Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Yi-Bin Chen, MD, Leukemia/Bone Marrow Transplant Program, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.
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