What is it?
An electrophysiology study (EPS) analyses the electrical activity of the heart in patients who have problems with their heartbeat (arrhythmias). An EPS shows the reaction of the heart to electrical impulses. These signals help your cardiologist identify where the arrhythmia starts and what medications or other therapies may help control it.
What should I expect?
Electrophysiology studies are conducted in specialty laboratories that contain a range of high tech equipment used to monitor patients. A cardiologist will carefully guide catheters (thin tubes) to your heart, usually from a vein or artery in the leg, in order to check your heart’s response to electrical impulses.
- Allow one to four hours for this test
- ECG leads are attached to stick-on electrodes and placed on different parts of the body such as the chest, arms and legs
- A cardiac sonographer will attach small metal disks (ECG electrodes) to your chest to monitor your heart rhythm during the test
- A general anaesthetic may be given before the procedure, although most are performed under sedation and local anaesthetic
- A nurse may shave an area of your leg before the cardiologist makes small incisions in the skin to feed the catheters into veins or arteries in your leg, and then up to your heart
- Once the catheters are in place, the cardiologist will give your heart small electrical impulses to make it beat at different speeds, and record the response
- Once all the necessary information is obtained, the catheters will be removed and pressure applied at the incisions to stop any bleeding
How do I prepare?
- Do not eat or drink anything for six hours before your test
- If you have diabetes, talk to your cardiologist about food and insulin intake, as these can affect your blood sugar levels
- Ask whether your current medications should be stopped before the test, as some can cause significant complications
- Bring your list of all current medications with you to the procedure on the day
- Make sure you read the consent form and understand the risks involved, and clarify any concerns or queries about the procedure with your cardiologist before signing the form
What happens next?
After your procedure, you will be moved to a recovery room where you will be monitored while you rest for a few hours, or sometimes overnight depending on the time of your procedure, to allow the sedative to wear off.
Do not drive for 24 hours after your test
Be gentle with puncture sites for a day or so (absolutely no heavy lifting)
The doctor will usually have your results available at the end of the test and will advise you about any further treatments or changes needed to existing treatment
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