Electrophysiology Studies (EPS)
An electrophysiology (EP) study is a test used to understand and map the electrical activity within your heart.
An EP study may be recommended in people with heart rhythm problems (arrhythmias) and other heart problems to understand the exact cause and determine which treatment is most likely to be effective. Doctors also use EP studies to predict the risk of sudden cardiac death in certain situations.
An EP study involves placing diagnostic catheters within your heart and running specialized tests to map the electrical currents. EP studies are done in the hospital and carry a small risk of serious complications.
Why it's done
An EP study is a test to understand the way electrical signals move through your heart to make it beat. An EP study is used in people whose bodies produce ineffective or chaotic electrical signals that cause the heart to beat incorrectly. An EP study can also be used to predict the risk of sudden cardiac death.
Your doctor may recommend an EP study if you:
- Have an abnormal heart rhythm (arrhythmia). If you've been diagnosed with an arrhythmia, such as atrial fibrillation, atrial flutter, tachycardia, ventricular tachycardia or supraventricular tachycardia, your doctor may recommend an EP study to better understand how electrical signals move in your heart and how best to treat your condition.
- Are undergoing cardiac ablation. An EP study is done at the beginning of a cardiac ablation procedure for arrhythmia. Cardiac ablation uses heat or cold energy to create scar tissue in the heart to block erratic electrical signals.
- Experience a temporary loss of consciousness (syncope). People who experience syncope may undergo an EP study to understand the cause.
- Have a risk of sudden cardiac death. If you have a heart condition that increases your risk of sudden cardiac death, an EP study may help your doctor better understand your risk.
- Are undergoing heart surgery. If you're preparing for a heart operation in which cardiac ablation may be performed at the same time, your doctor may recommend an EP study.
An EP study carries a risk of complications, including:
- Bleeding or infection at the site where your catheter was inserted
- Damage to your blood vessels where the catheter may have scraped as it traveled to your heart
- Puncture of your heart
- Damage to your heart valves
- Damage to your heart's electrical system, which could worsen your arrhythmia and require a pacemaker to correct
- Blood clots in your legs or lungs (venous thromboembolism)
- Stroke or heart attack
- Death in rare cases