Your heart deserves the most up-to-date treatments and programs, and that’s just what you’ll find at Palm Beach Health Network's state-of-the-art electrophysiology labs. We can treat a wide range of arrhythmia disorders, including atrial fibrillation,
a leading cause of stroke, without the need for surgery. This can reduce recovery time and complications.
What Are Electrophysiology Studies?
Electrophysiology (EP) studies are tests that help your doctor assess your heart's electrical system or activity to better understand an abnormal heart rhythm, or arrhythmia. These studies are typically performed by inserting catheters and then wire electrodes,
which measure electrical activity, through blood vessels that enter the heaty. Our doctors have access to some of the latest, and most advanced tools at their hands to help them identify what might be causing your heart to beat improperly.
What You Can Expect
If you find yourself in one of our Palm Beach Health Network's electrophysiology labs, or EP labs, a nurse will put an IV (intravenous line) into your arm and you’ll be given a mild sedative. A nurse will clean and shave the area where the doctor
will be working, usually in the upper thigh area, arm or neck.
You will be given a shot to numb the area, and a small tube called a sheath will be inserted into your artery or vein where several special catheters can be advanced your heart.
Small electric pulses will be sent through the catheters to make your heart beat stronger or faster. The electrical activity happening in your heart will be recorded, allowing us to pinpoint the problem. You may feel some pressure in the area where
the sheath was inserted, but you should not experience any pain.
If a problem is identified, we can insert a pacemaker or implantable defibrillator to help your heartbeat remain regular, or perform cardiac ablation, a procedure to destroy
the area that is causing the irregular electrical signal. This may be done during the study, or sometimes immediately afterwards.
The test usually lasts anywhere from one to four hours. You should be allowed to go home the same day but
will not be able to drive or return to regular activities for about a day. The puncture site may be sore for several days.
How Does an Electrophysiology Study Work?
Here are the things you can expect if you’re advised by your doctor to undergo an electrophysiology study:
- At the start of the study, you’ll lie down on a bed and a nurse will begin an intravenous (IV) line into your arm or hand. This allows the nurse to administer drugs and fluids during the procedure. You’ll be given a sedative to help you
relax and be connected to several monitors.
- Your groin will be shaved and cleansed with an antiseptic solution, and sterile drapes will cover you from your neck to your feet. A soft strap will be placed across your waist and arms to keep your hands from touching the sterile area.
- The electrophysiologist will numb the skin in your groin and insert several catheters into the vein beneath the skin. Those will sense the electrical activity in your heart and help the electrophysiologist evaluate your heart’s conduction.
- The electrophysiologist will use a pacemaker to deliver electrical impulses through one catheter to increase your heart rate. This means you’ll feel your heart beating either faster or stronger. The doctor and nurses may speak with you to ask
about how you are feeling. If your arrhythmia gets triggered, you may be given medications. This way, the treatment team can determine whether the medicines would be effective and may be enough to control your irregular heartbeat. If necessary,
a small amount of energy will be delivered by patches in your chest to bring back your normal heart rhythm.
- Based on the information collected, the doctor may perform an ablation or implant a pacemaker or ICD.
The entire procedure takes between two and four hours, or longer if additional treatments will be performed at the same time. After the procedure, you may be asked to rest for one to two hours. Then, follow-up appointments may be scheduled, discharge planners may come to you to explain the entire procedure and your doctor may also prescribe you with medications before going home."