Like an electrocardiogram, an electrophysiology study (EPS), provides information on the heart's electrical system. The EPS, however, is an extensive and invasive test that pinpoints faulty electrical pathways in the heart. To obtain this information, a specially trained cardiologist called an electrophysiologist must perform an EPS study.
During the Procedure
You will be sedated for the procedure and hooked up to several different monitors. After numbing an area in your groin, the electrophysiologist will make a small puncture and insert a long, thin, flexible tube. Although you may feel an unpleasant sensation of pressure during this part of the exam, the lack of pain fibers inside the blood vessels limits the degree of discomfort.
The doctor will then inject a special x-ray dye into the tube to visualize the pathway to your heart. As the dye enters your blood stream, you may feel a warm sensation. Guided by x-ray images of the pathway, the electrophysiologist will gradually thread the wire into the chambers of the heart. Once in place, the electrode at the wire's tip will measure your heart's electrical activity.
To help determine the best treatment for your problem, the electrophysiologist may also safely induce arrhythmias by using the electrode to stimulate heart contractions. The actual procedure usually lasts about one hour.
After the Procedure
You will need to rest in bed after the exam for about 6-8 hours. You may need to keep your arm or leg extended for several hours depending on the location of the incision. Although the procedure is typically performed on an outpatient basis, some patients may need to remain in the hospital to be monitored for 24 hours.
You will be given an order for the follow-up blood test at the time of your exam.