The electrophysiology (EP) study allows doctors to acquire accurate, detailed information on the electrical functions of the heart. Normal heart function depends on electrical activity and the effect of that activity on its cells. Impaired electrical activity can cause cardiac arrhythmias, impaired function, even sudden death.
What Electrophysiology Studies Measure
- Whether the electrical signals in the heart are traveling in a normal pattern
- Whether there are any abnormal electrical connections in the heart
- Whether the heart responds to electrical stimulation or medications normally
- Whether there are any abnormal rhythms induced by electrical stimulation
What to Expect During an Electrophysiology Study
EP studies are performed in the electrophysiology laboratory of the hospital. One or more catheters with electrodes at the tips are threaded through the blood vessels from the groin to several places within the heart. Once in place, the electrodes can precisely map the spread of electrical impulses throughout the organ.
During the test, the electrophysiologist may use the electrodes to stimulate the heart to beat at rates that may trigger, or halt, an irregular heartbeat. This way, the location and mechanisms of the arrhythmia that may be causing the rapid or irregular heartbeat can be observed.