Electrophysiology

Electrophysiology Studies (EPS) are used to assess changes in the heart rhythm that are not controlled with medications. EPS are also used to evaluate fainting that may be caused by rhythm changes and evaluate the effect of medications used. EPS provides much more detailed information about the heart's electrical functioning than can be achieved through an EKG. An outline of the procedure process follows.

Preparing for the Procedure

  • You will have blood work done prior to the test. This may be done in your doctor's office, or while you are in the hospital.
  • If you are scheduled to come into the hospital from home the morning of your test, ask your doctor if you should take your regular medications that morning.
  • If your test is scheduled for the morning, you will not be able to eat or drink anything after midnight the night before your test. If your test is scheduled for the afternoon, you may be able to have a liquid breakfast, but you will not be able to eat or drink after breakfast.
  • An intravenous line (IV) will be started before the test. An IV is a small, plastic tube that goes into your vein. This will allow you to receive medication and fluids into your veins.
  • A mild sedative will be given before the test. This medication will not put you to sleep but will make you feel relaxed.
  • The area where the doctors will insert the catheter, usually the groin, will be washed and shaved.

EPS Procedure

  • When you are first brought into the exam room, you will recline on a table. Sterile hospital sheets (drapes) will be placed over you. The only area left uncovered will be where they insert the catheter. This is usually the groin.
  • After numbing the area with an injection, the doctor will put a catheter into a vein in your groin. This catheter will go up through the vein into the right side of your heart. You will not feel the catheter moving.
  • The doctor will then use the catheter to cause extra heartbeats. You may feel your heartbeat changing. This is normal. If you feel any discomfort or chest pain, tell the doctor immediately. You may pass out for a very short period of time. If this happens, a very small shock will be used to bring your heart back to its normal rhythm. Most patients do not report any pain, and many do not even know that they have passed out.

Hospital Recovery

The catheter will be removed and pressure will be placed on the area. If the groin was used you may need to stay in bed and keep your leg straight for several hours. The nurse will check the site frequently for swelling and bleeding. The doctor will tell you the results of your test.

Discharge Instructions

When you go home, you should check the area where the procedure was done every day. You may notice a small bruise or lump at the site, which is normal. Call your doctor if you notice an increase in the size of the lump, any bleeding at the area, or an increase in discomfort. Avoid heavy lifting or strenuous activity for a few days to prevent any bleeding at the procedure site and follow the instructions given to you by your doctor.

Risks and complications

The risk associated with EPS is minimal and can be different for each person. The risks of EPS are: bleeding, infection, and blood clots. Your doctor will discuss these risks with you in more detail before the procedure is done.