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An electrophysiology study is a procedure to diagnose and treat an arrhythmia or irregular heartbeat.

It is often performed with ablation to correct an arrhythmia that has not responded to conservative treatment.

What happens during an electrophysiology study?

An electrophysiology study is usually performed without anaesthetic but you may be given a sedative to help you relax. The procedure is usually not painful but be sure and let us know if you are in any discomfort.

Electrophysiology and ablation can be a lengthy procedure taking from 2 to 6 hours.

Your consultant will apply a local anaesthetic to the insertion site. They will insert one or more catheters (tiny tubes) with electrodes on the end into a vein and thread them to your heart. The electrodes will measure the electrical impulses within your heart to help identify the area producing the arrhythmia. They may also stimulate your heart to beat irregularly in order to fully assess the arrhythmia.

If ablation is also performed your consultant will use one of the electrodes to send a signal direct to the area producing the arrhythmia. This destroys the problem area and creates a small scar that causes the problem heartbeat to beat normally.

The catheters will be removed and pressure will be applied to the insertion site to ensure any bleeding is controlled.

Going home after electrophysiology and ablation

You may need to rest in bed for several hours following your procedure. In some cases you may need to spend one night in hospital.

You will not be able to drive so please arrange for someone to take you home when you are discharged.

The insertion sight may be sore and bruised. Avoid any strenuous activities and heavy lifting until released to do so by your consultant.

Most people recover well from electrophysiology and ablation. As with any surgical procedure there could be complications including:

Specific complications from electrophysiology and ablation may include:

  • Damage to the veins used for insertion
  • Damage to the heart
  • Damage to the heart rhythm
  • Nerve damage

Why not print this treatment page so you can discuss any concerns you have with your consultant?

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