Electrophysiology Study / EP Study

An electrophysiology or EP study is an excellent tool for difficult to diagnose arrhythmias. If external and implantable monitoring has not been able to catch an arrhythmic episode, an EP study may be appropriate.

These studies are conducted in an EP lab using advanced catheter technology. A small incision is made on the inside of the thigh and a catheter sheath is threaded up to the heart. Catheters are then deployed to map out the structures of the heart, including any irregular electrical signals. Dr. Banker can then, in real time, see exactly where the electrical signals begin and whether there is any irregularity. An EP study is typically used when arrhythmias are suspected but have not been shown on diagnostic monitors.

Benefits of an EP Study

  • An arrhythmia can be induced either chemically or mechanically.
  • If there is a treatable arrhythmia found during the study, a subsequent curative procedure can be performed at the same time. Whether cryoablation, using cold therapy to freeze heart tissue, or RF catheter ablation using heat to do the same, this can be performed without the need for a second visit to the lab.
  • While more invasive than other diagnostic tools, the EP study is very safe and can yield the most accurate diagnosis.

Risks of the EP study

An EP study does come with some risks including the risks of anesthesia, infection or blood loss at the incision site in the groin or arm, damage to the blood vessels being used to transport the catheter or damage to the heart. In the hands of a skilled and experienced electrophysiologist, these risks are extremely low and will be discussed during consultation with Dr. Banker.

On the other hand, the potential benefits of an electrophysiology study and subsequent treatment can be significant. Not only is the arrhythmia often diagnosed during one of these studies, but it can also be treated, and in the majority of cases, cured on the spot.

The recovery time is quick with most patients leaving the hospital the same day or next day and getting back to normal activity within a few days to a week.