Electophysiology Studies & Ablation
What is it?
Electrophysiology studies (EPS) look at the electrical activity of the heart in patients who have symptoms of palpitations or the risk of arrhythmia. EPS examine the response of the heart to electrical impulses. These results help your Electrophysiologist to find out information about the arrhythmia and what treatments may help control it.
What should I expect?
The procedure will be performed either under local anaesthetic with sedation or a general anaesthetic. This decision will be based on a number of factors determined by your Electrophysiologist. You will be required to fast for six hours before your procedure.
If you have diabetes and take insulin, you will receive separate instructions about your insulin. Warfarin will usually be ceased 4 to 5 days prior to the procedure. Certain other medications (eg. antiarrhythmic drugs) may also be ceased for 2 or more days prior to the procedure. Please bring a list of your medications with you to the procedure.
Small discs called electrodes are placed on your chest. These electrodes have wires called leads, which attach to an electrocardiogram (ECG) machine and monitor your heart rhythm during the test.
The procedure is usually performed through the blood vessels in the groin. Your Electrophysiologist makes a small incision in the skin and feeds one or more electrode catheters through a sheath. Once the catheters are in place the electrodes will give your heart small electrical impulses to make it beat at different speeds. The catheters will also record the response to these impulses.
If the information collected with the catheters from the inside of the heart reveal a treatable cause of the palpitations or arrhythmia, then ablation treatment may be performed. Ablation aims to eradicate any abnormal tissue responsible for your electrical problem, using radiofrequency (heat) energy.
Success rates and complications
EPS and ablation can be applied to multiple different conditions and the success rates and potential risks for your particular procedure will be explained to you by your Electrophysiologist. In general, there is likely to be some bruising of the groin and there is a 1% risk of perforation of the wall of the heart, stroke, a need for a permanent pacemaker, or death.
After the procedure
The Electrophysiologist will remove the catheters and sheaths and firm pressure will be applied to the site where the sheath was inserted to stop any bleeding. After the procedure you will need to rest for a few hours. You must try to lie still and not bend your knees too much. Nurses will watch to see that your heart rate and blood pressure are normal. Most people remain in hospital for the night after the procedure.
You need to be careful following the procedure for 48 hours with no heavy lifting or driving. This period of care may be longer depending upon your particular circumstances.
You should read the consent form and understand the risks involved with this procedure. Please clarify any concerns or queries about