An EP study, also known as an electrophysiology study, is an interventional diagnostic test to understand the electrical pathways of the heart, and what, if anything, is causing an irregular heartbeat, or arrhythmia. Further, the EP study is effective in understanding exactly where any errant electrical signals originate, allowing for a better understanding of the heart’s function.
How we perform an EP study
Typically, we perform an EP study only after trying to find the root cause of the arrhythmia, using less-invasive diagnostic tools such as an EKG, Holter monitor, loop recorder, event recorder and more.
The study is performed in a specially created operating room known as an EP lab, located in the hospital. This room is equipped with the latest imaging and modeling technology to get an accurate three-dimensional picture of the heart using only a catheter.
To perform an EP study, your electrophysiologist will make a small incision in the groin and thread a catheter, with an electrode tip, up to the heart. This electrode accurately models the heart in three dimensions and allows your electrophysiologist to see both the structures of the heart as well as its electrical pathways.
Safety of an EP study
Of course, we do not want to perform any procedure unnecessarily, and therefore, an EP study is somewhat of a last resort, when other diagnostic testing has proven inconclusive. However, in general, the EP study is very safe and effectively determines the type and location of the arrhythmia. Most importantly, once the arrhythmia has been found and a treatment plan decided upon, your electrophysiologist can continue to perform a curative treatment like an Afib ablation during the same procedure. This reduces the amount of time you will spend recovering and allows you to leave their EP study potentially cured.
The bottom line
Please speak to your electrophysiologist to learn more about whether an EP study is necessary for your particular circumstance. Doctors Niazi and Bisla will be able to offer concrete guidance on what diagnostic testing may be necessary and what possible outcomes to expect.