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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 5/28/2013
Updated by: Luc Jasmin, MD, PhD, FRCS (C), FACS, Department of Neurosurgery at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles CA; Department of Surgery at Los Robles Hospital, Thousand Oaks CA; Department of Surgery at Ashland Community Hospital, Ashland OR; Department of Surgery at Cheyenne Regional Medical Center, Cheyenne WY; Department of Anatomy at UCSF, San Francisco CA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.