Abnormal haemoglobin detection is vital, as haemoglobin is a type of protein responsible for transporting oxygen from your lungs to all of the other cells in your body. Without this vital protein, your cells would not get the vital resource needed to accomplish all bodily functions, and you would die. Therefore, it is essential to determine if there is a problem with a person’s haemoglobin as quickly as possible.
A common first test that is performed for abnormal haemoglobin detection is a complete blood cell count to determine if a person has an abnormal blood condition such as microcytosis, hypochromia, or anaemia. Microcytosis is a condition where a person’s blood cells are smaller than normal, leading to a lower blood volume than is considered normal. Hypochromia is a condition where a person’s red blood cells have less haemoglobin than they should. Anaemia is a deficient number of red blood cells. The presence of any or all of these conditions can lead to abnormal haemoglobin detection.
Further testing involves the level of iron in the blood. One important test that is used is electrophoresis, which involves the movement of molecules that are electrically charged within an applied electric field. It is not the most accurate test for detecting an abnormal level of haemoglobin in the blood, but it is one of the simplest tests out there, which is why this test is still commonly used today.
A more accurate test is isoelectric focusing (IEF), which involves haemoglobin molecules moving across an electric gradient until their net charge reaches zero (known as the isoelectric point). The molecules will then form into a sharp band, enabling molecules to be separated even if their isoelectric points differ by just 0.02 pH units. This test is able to detect various abnormal haemoglobin conditions not detectable under the less-accurate electrophoresis test, but is not used as often because of its high cost and its need for experienced laboratory staff to successfully administer it.