Electrophysiology Studies (EPS) and Catheter Ablation for Arrhythmia in Houston, TX
What Is an Electrophysiology Study?
An electrophysiology study (EPS) is a procedure to examine the electrical system of your heart and diagnose the source and nature of your heart rhythm problem (arrhythmia).
Electrophysiologists (EPs) can also use EPS to find out if a patient needs a pacemaker, is at risk for sudden cardiac death or would benefit from an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD). The results of this study will help your doctor recommend the treatment options that are right for the type of arrhythmia you are experiencing.
During the EPS, your doctor passes wires (catheters) through your veins and places them in different areas of your heart. The physician can record the electrical activity of the heart or send electrical signals through these catheters to stimulate areas of your heart, which will help diagnose your arrhythmia.
Based on the result of the EPS, your doctor may recommend catheter ablation as treatment for your arrhythmia. In that case, the EPS and catheter ablation are usually done in the same session (EPS and Ablation).
Catheter Ablation for Arrhythmias
During the electrophysiology study (EPS), your doctor will find the areas of your heart that are causing an arrhythmia. These areas may send faulty impulses (triggers) or may function as an electrical pathway that allows the abnormal heart rhythm to continue.
Catheter ablation is a procedure that can correct your arrhythmia by destroying the heart tissues that start (trigger) or maintain the arrhythmia.
Catheter ablation procedures can treat various types of arrhythmia:
- Supraventricular tachycardia
- Atrial flutter
- Atrial fibrillation
- Premature ventricular contractions (PVC)
- Ventricular tachycardia
Preparing for the Ablation Procedure
Your doctor will lay out the options for treating your type of arrhythmia, including catheter ablation. The physician will explain the details, benefits, and expected results of the procedure, as well as potential risks and complications of ablation.
Once you understand the procedure and agree to proceed with this therapy, your doctor will provide you with detailed instructions on how to prepare for the procedure. Ask any questions you may have and follow your doctor’s instructions correctly.
During the Ablation Procedure
EPS and catheter ablation are performed in the electrophysiology (EP) lab or catheterization (cath) lab in the hospital. Before the procedure begins, you may receive sedative medications, or a specialist (anesthesiologist) will place you in a sleep-like state known as general anesthesia.
After you are sedated or put under general anesthesia, the cardiac electrophysiologist (EP) will start the procedure by inserting a needle into a vein in your groin area and subsequently replacing it with a small tube (sheath).
The doctor will then thread the catheters through the sheath and guide them to your heart with the help of X-ray imaging or ultrasound. He or she may use several catheters and place them in different areas of your heart. The physician will then perform an electrophysiology study (EPS) to map and identify the source of your abnormal heart rhythm.
After the doctor locates the area where the arrhythmia begins, he or she will use an ablation catheter to deliver heat (radiofrequency ablation) or cold energy (cryoablation) to create a scar and destroy the tissues that trigger or help maintain your arrhythmia. Your doctor will then repeat the EPS to confirm that the ablation has successfully destroyed the abnormal tissues.
After the EP removes the catheters from your body, you will be transferred to the recovery room.
After the Ablation Procedure
After the procedure, the medical staff will move you to the recovery area, where they will continue to monitor your blood pressure, heart rate, and oxygen level. You will spend the night in the hospital and go home the day after the procedure.
Before you leave the hospital, you will receive instructions about self-care after the procedure, any medications you may have to take, and when to have a follow-up visit with your doctor. Review the instructions carefully and ask questions if something is not clear or if you need additional information.
Questions to Ask Your Doctor about EPS and Catheter Ablation
- What are the treatment options for my type of arrhythmia?
- What are the advantages of catheter ablation over medications?
- How does ablation work, and what are the risks?
- Will the ablation cure my arrhythmia?
- What type of energy source (heat or cold) will you use for the ablation and which one works better?
- Do I have to take blood thinners after the ablation?
- What medications can I stop after the ablation?
- How should I prepare for the procedure?
- How long is the recovery?
- What symptoms and signs should I watch out for after the ablation procedure, and what should I do if I experience them?
- How long after the procedure can I travel?
- Can I exercise and drive after the procedure?
- How do you monitor my arrhythmia after the procedure?
- How often do I have to see you after the procedure?