Electrophysiology / EP Study
Electrophysiology studies are a very important part of the diagnostic process for an EP. This is especially true when the patient is complaining of paroxysmal arrhythmias that have not been found on the various diagnostic tools mentioned elsewhere on this website. EP studies are performed in a specialized electrophysiology lab at the hospital. EP studies use advanced catheter technology to visualize the heart and its electrical signals to understand where the problem may be coming from.
Much like other catheter-based procedures, a small incision is made in the groin or in the arm and a guide wire is threaded up a vein and into the heart. A protective sheath followed by the catheter is then inserted into the same vein. Once the catheter reaches the heart, a 3D live view of the structures of the heart as well as its electrical signals is presented to Dr. Tordini on a computer monitor. Using this map of the heart, we can accurately see where the electrical signals are coming from and if any area of the heart is misfiring.
One of the reasons for an EP study is that an arrhythmia is very occasional and unpredictable. An EP study gives Dr. Tordini the ability to try to induce an arrhythmia, either mechanically or chemically, thus allowing her to better understand the nature of the irregularity.
Beyond the diagnostic benefits of an EP study, the beauty of this tool is the possibility of following it up with a curative procedure such as a cardiac catheter ablation or a balloon cryoablation to handle the arrhythmia on the spot. This avoids the discomfort and recovery of having to return for a second procedure.
While an EP study is minimally invasive, it is not without risk. The risks of an EP study are the same as any that involve a catheter-based cardiovascular procedure including pain, blood loss and infection at the insertion site of the catheter, damage to the blood vessel used to access the heart and ultimately structural damage to the heart itself. However, employing a very experienced and well-trained electrophysiologist such as Dr. Tordini reduces this risk dramatically. Of course, a procedure such as an EP study will only be performed if the benefits are greater than the potential risks.
Whether an EP study is necessary and what the risks of such a procedure may be, will be discussed during consultation with Dr. Tordini. If you have unexplained heart rhythm symptoms that have not been fully diagnosed, we encourage you to schedule a consultation with us, to learn more about the diagnostic options available to you including an EP study.