What is an electrophysiology (EP) study?
An electrophysiology study (EP study) is a test that is used to evaluate the electrical activity of the heart and to diagnose and treat abnormal heart rhythms or arrhythmias. During the procedure, thin, flexible wires called catheters are inserted into a blood vessel in the groin and threaded to the heart. The catheters record the heart’s electrical signals and can stimulate the heart to induce and diagnose arrhythmias.
What is an ablation?
Ablation is a procedure that is used to treat abnormal heart rhythms or arrhythmias that have been diagnosed during an EP study. The procedure uses heat, cold or radiofrequency energy to destroy the small areas of heart tissue that are responsible for the arrhythmia.
Who is it for?
EP studies are typically recommended for patients who have symptoms of an arrhythmia, such as palpitations, dizziness, fainting, or shortness of breath. The procedure may also be recommended for patients who have been diagnosed with an arrhythmia but have not responded to medication, or for patients who have an increased risk of sudden cardiac death.
What to expect on the day?
EP studies and ablations are performed in a hospital under local anaesthesia and mild sedation. The procedure typically takes between 2-4 hours.
During the procedure, the cardiologist will insert catheters into a blood vessel and guide them to the heart. The catheters will record the heart’s electrical activity and may also be used to deliver electrical signals to the heart to induce arrhythmias for diagnosis and treatment. If an abnormality is found, a catheter will be used to deliver energy to the small areas of heart tissue that are responsible for the arrhythmia. The energy will destroy the tissue and stop the abnormal heart rhythm.
After the procedure, you will be monitored for a short period of time to ensure that there are no complications, such as bleeding. You can usually go home the same day as the procedure.
Overall, an Electrophysiology (EP) study and ablation are safe and effective ways to diagnose and treat abnormal heart rhythms.