What is it?
Electrophysiology studies (EPS) show how the heart reacts to controlled electrical signals by recording the electrical activity and electric pathways of the heart. These signals can help doctors find out where in the heart the arrhythmia starts and what medicines will work to stop it. EPS can also help doctors know what other catheter techniques could be used to stop the arrhythmia.
How does it work?
EPS uses electrical signals to help doctors find out what kind of arrhythmia a patient has and what can be done to prevent or control it. Doctors will perform a cardiac catheterization procedure which is used to send electrical signals into the heart.
Reasons for Electrophysiology Studies
Electrophysiology studies are techniques used to study patients who have arrhythmias to determine the cause, the site of origin and best treatment.
What to Expect
Blood tests, an electrocardiogram, and a chest X-ray will most likely be taken before the procedure. The procedure is done in catheterization laboratory where there are television monitors, heart monitors, and blood pressure machines.
Once in the catheterization laboratory, the patient will be asked to lie down on an examination table. Electrodes will be placed on the chest which have wires (leads) and hook up to an electrocardiogram machine. This machine will monitor heart rhythm during the test.
To prevent infection, the patient will be shaved and cleansed around the area of your leg where the catheter will be inserted. An intravenous (IV) needle with a tube attached to it will be put in the patients arm and a mild sedative will be given through the IV to help the patient relax throughout the test.
An anesthetic medicine will be given with a needle to numb the area around the catheter insertion location which may cause some mild discomfort. Next, a small incision will be made in the skin. Once doctors see the artery into which the catheter will go, a special needle is used to attach into it.
Doctors then put the catheter into the artery in the leg at which time no pain should be felt. The catheter is gently threaded through the artery and into the heart. Once the catheter is in place, doctors will give the heart small electrical impulses to make it beat at different speeds. The patient will be able to feel the heartbeat changing speeds, and this may cause some mild discomfort. After the doctors have the information they need, the catheter and IV will be removed.
The patient will be moved to another room to rest for a few hours. Once the heart rate and blood pressure are normal and after this time of rest, the patient will be able to go home.
Sometimes an EP study is conducted before implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) placement to determine which device is best and afterwards to monitor treatment success.