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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.

Alternative Names

Urine protein electrophoresis; UPEP

How the Test is Performed

A clean-catch urine sample is needed. The clean-catch method is used to prevent germs from the penis or vagina from getting into a urine sample. To collect your urine, the health care provider may give you a special clean-catch kit that contains a cleansing solution and sterile wipes. Follow instructions exactly so that the results are accurate.

After you provide a urine sample, it is sent to the laboratory. There, 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

Do not stop taking any medicine 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

Normally there is no protein, or only a small amount of protein in the urine. An abnormally high amount 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 the test may done as a screening test to measure the various amounts of different types of proteins in urine. Urine protein electrophoresis detects two types of protein: albumin and globulins.

Normal Results

No significant amount of globulins are found 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


Risks

There are no risks associated with this test.

References

Gerber GS, Brendler CB. Evaluation of the urologic patient: history, physical examination, and urinalysis. In: Wein AJ, Kavoussi LR, Novick AC, et al., eds. Campbell-Walsh Urology. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 3.

McPherson RA, Ben-Ezra J. Basic examination of urine. In: McPherson RA, Pincus MR, eds. Henry's Clinical Diagnosis and Management by Laboratory Methods. 22nd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 28.


Review Date: 5/29/2014
Reviewed By: Yi-Bin Chen, MD, Leukemia/Bone Marrow Transplant Program, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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