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What is an Electrophysiology (EP) study?
This is a test that is used to record the electrical pathways and activity of the heart. An electrophysiology study is performed by an electrophysiologist who is a medical doctor who specializes in the diagnosis, treatment, and management of abnormal heart rhythms.Why do I need an EP study?
How should I prepare for the EP study?
- To identify the cause abnormal heart rhythms
- To locate the origin of an abnormal heart rhythm
- To decide which is the best treatment for an abnormal heart rhythm
- To determine the best device before ICD (implantable cardioverter/defibrillator) placement
- To monitor the success of the treatment.
How is the procedure performed?
- Discuss with your doctor what medications you are taking so that you can be advised on what to take or avoid. If you have some health conditions such as diabetes, your doctor ill adjust your medications.
- You should not drink or eat anything the evening before the electrophysiology study. If you are taking any medications do so with only a small sip of water.
- If you will be discharged on the same day you will need someone to drive you home.
How long does the EP study last?
- You will lie on a bed an intravenous line (IV) will be started in your arm. This is to enable you to receive fluids and drugs (to relax you) during the procedure.
- You will be connected to several monitors. A nurse will shave your groin and cleanse it with an antiseptic solution. Sterile drapes will be used to cover you from your neck to your feet. A soft strap will be tied across your arms and waist to prevent your hands from touching the sterile field.
- The electrophysiologist will numb the skin in your groin with medication. He/she will then insert several catheters into the vein beneath the skin. The catheters are threaded to your heart guided by a fluoroscopy machine. Electrical impulses will be delivered to your heart by a pacemaker. The catheters evaluate the conduction system of your heart by sensing electrical activity in your heart.
- Your doctor will reproduce your abnormal heart rhythm. He/she may then give you various medications to see which one controls the abnormal heart rhythm best. This can also be done to determine the best device or procedure to use in treating your abnormal heart rhythm.
- During the procedure, you may feel your heart beating stronger or faster. You should let the doctor or nurses know if this or other symptoms occur. Depending on the results of the EP study the doctor may decide to continue with a different procedure such as catheter ablation procedure or device implant such as a pacemaker.
After the EP study?
- The test usually takes about two to four hours to perform.
- However, this may be longer depending on if additional procedures or treatments are performed at the same time such as catheter ablation.
- After the EP study, the catheters will be removed from your groin.
- To prevent bleeding, pressure will be applied to the entry site.
- You will need to rest in bed for about one to two hours.
- If there are no complications, you can go home the same day.
Risks : -Arrhythmias
-Blood clots that lead to embolism
-Injury to the vein
-Low blood pressure
Learn more about Electrophysiology