oa African Journal of Laboratory Medicine - An audit of immunofixation requesting practices at a South African referral laboratory : original research

Volume 3, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 2225-2002
  • E-ISSN: 2225-2010



It is common practice in most chemical pathology laboratories for reflective immunofixation electrophoresis (IFE) to occur following the detection or suspicion of a paraprotein on serum protein electrophoresis (SPEP). The chemical pathology laboratory at Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central Hospital (IALCH) in Durban, South Africa, is currently the only non-private laboratory in the KwaZulu Natal province that performs SPEP analysis, with current practice requiring that the clinician request IFE following suggestion by the laboratory after a suspicious SPEP result.

To review the current process for IFE at IALCH in the context of reflective testing and to examine the use of the alpha-2-globulin/alpha-1-globulin ratio as a predictor of a positive IFE result.
Data for 1260 consecutive SPEP tests performed at the IALCH National Health Laboratory Service were collected between February and July 2011. SPEP and IFE were performed with a Sebia Hydrasys automated electrophoresis system. The alpha-2-globulin/alpha-1-globulin ratio was calculated using density of corresponding fractions on SPEP.
Analysis revealed that of the 1260 SPEPs performed during the analysis period, 304 IFEs were suggested by the reviewing pathologist. A total of 45 (15%) of the suggested IFEs were subsequently requested by the attending clinicians. Almost half (46.5%) ( = 20) of the suggested IFEs that were performed revealed the presence of a paraprotein. There was no statistically-significant difference between the alpha-2-globulin/alpha-1-globulin ratio for patients with positive or negative IFEs (-value = 0.2).
This study reveals the need for reflective addition of IFE testing by the laboratory following suspicious findings on SPEP.

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