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Why the test is performed:
This test helps confirm the diagnosis of multiple sclerosis (MS).
The laboratory procedure is called CSF electrophoresis, which is a method used to study the levels of protein in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF).
In electrophoresis, a CSF sample is applied to a gel (solid medium allowing the movement of proteins), and a voltage is applied. The proteins migrate along the gel based on their charge (roughly on their size). The gel is stained, and significant amounts of similar proteins will cause a visible "band" to be present. The term oligoclonal bands refers the presence in CSF of two or more protein bands of a specific immunoglobin (IgG) that have greater intensity than in the concurrent serum sample. This pattern of banding is seen in patients with MS, and other conditions.
Update Date 4/30/2011
Updated by: Kevin Sheth, MD, Department of Neurology, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine;David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.