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About the test
What is this test done for?
Hemoglobin is the protein inside red blood cells that transports oxygen to the body tissues and organs. It is seen that there are few abnormal forms in population too apart from the normal forms. A hemoglobin electrophoresis test is used to check and identify different types of hemoglobin in your blood circulation.
Why is it Done?
  • Hemoglobin electrophoresis is done to determine: • Conditions such as sickle cell anemia and thalassemia that involves abnormal forms of hemoglobin.
  • Anemia that is not related to iron deficiency, chronic disease, or lead toxicity.
  • Presence or absence of hemoglobinopathy (disorder associated with abnormal hemoglobin) in children when there is a positive family history of the same.
When should it be performed?
The test is performed if the doctor suspects abnormal form of hemoglobin to be the cause of anemia or any such condition in a person.
How is it done
A blood sample will be collected from a vein in your arm. For an infant, the blood may be collected by puncturing the heel with a small needle (or lancet). Fasting is not needed prior to sample collection.

The results are usually available after 1-2 days of blood collection. The reference ranges are as follows: 

  • HbA1 : 95%-98%
  • HbA2 : 1.5%-3.5%
  • HbF: < 2% (which means fetal hemoglobin. The range of which will be age-dependent)
  • HbC: Absent
  • HbS: Absent

Results indicate the following:

  • Results Seen: Slightly decreased Hb A but having moderate amount of Hb S (about 40%), Condition: Sickle cell trait
  • Results Seen: Majority Hb S and increased Hb F (up to 10%), but no Hb A, Condition: Sickle cell disease
  • Results Seen: Majority Hb C, no Hb A, Condition: Hemoglobin C disease]
  • Results Seen: Majority Hb A , some Hb H, Condition: Hemoglobin H disease (alpha thalassemia)
  • Results Seen: Majority Hb F and little or no Hb A, Condition: Beta thalassemia major
  • Results Seen: Majority Hb A, slightly increased Hb A2 (4-8%)
Hb F may be slightly increased, Condition: Beta thalassemia minor
Other Tests
  • More rapid, sensitive, and quantitative methods of hemoglobin separation have replaced hemoglobin electrophoresis.
  • Cellulose acetate (CA) electrophoresis, capillary electrophoresis, Citrate agar electrophoresis, Murine monoclonal antibodies technology and mass spectrometry can also be used to resolve detect and quantify various hemoglobinopathies.
  • Automated high-pressure liquid chromatography instruments are proving to be useful alternative methods for hemoglobinopathy screening.
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