Diagnosing and Treating Heart Arrhythmias

Electrophysiology Study/Standard Ablation

In order to fully understand and treat your heart arrhythmia, your doctor has recommended an electrophysiology (EP) study.

An EP study is a specialized procedure that allows your doctor to have a detailed look at the electrical signals in your heart and pinpoint the source of any abnormal rhythms. EP studies use soft catheters with tiny electrodes at their tips to map and evaluate the electrical activity inside your heart. The wires are inserted through veins in your groin or, occasionally, in your neck and threaded up to the inner chambers of your heart.

During the procedure, your doctor records and measures your heart’s electrical pathways and may even use tiny electrical pulses to stimulate the arrhythmia so that it can be fully evaluated. Your doctor may also give you different medications through your intravenous (IV) line to see how they affect the arrhythmia.

RISKS OF EP STUDIES/STANDARD ABLATION

EP studies and standard ablation procedures are considered to be very safe; however, with any invasive procedure, there can be complications.

Rare complications include:

  • Excessive bleeding where the catheters were put in 
  • Bruising or swelling

Very rare complications:

  • The heart or lung can be punctured.
  • Disruption of the heart’s electrical system
  • Blood clot inside the vein
  • Heart attack or stroke

During the procedure and throughout the recovery period, we will be monitoring you closely.

Standard Catheter Ablation

Catheter ablation is done much the same way as an EP study. In fact, most standard catheter ablations are done immediately after the EP study. It involves threading a thin catheter through the veins in your groin up to the areas inside your heart where the abnormal electrical disruptions are occurring.

The tip of the ablation catheter is directed toward the precise location. Once properly positioned, it delivers a small radio-frequency electrical current to burn out the tiny malfunctioning areas.

Usually, the EP study and ablation procedures are pre-planned to occur at the same time. In other cases, the decision to go forward with ablation is not decided until you have had the EP study and your doctor has determined that an ablation is the best treatment option for you.

Standard EP studies or ablations are usually considered day procedures. You will come in on the morning of the procedure and go home at the end of the day. The actual procedure itself may take anywhere from one to four hours to complete.

Before coming in for your procedure, your doctor will discuss any special tests or other preparations that may need to be done.

Conditions Treated with Standard Catheter Ablation

  • Typical atrial flutter
  • AV re-entrant tachycardia (AVRT)/Wolff-Parkinson-White (WPW) syndrome
  • AV node re-entrant tachycardia