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Electrophysiology Study

Electrophysiology (EP) Study

During an electrophysiology study, electrode catheters are guided into the chambers of the heart and at strategic places along its conduction system. Once in place, these electrodes record the electrical impulses of the heart and define the exact location of abnormal electrical activity.

How to Prepare for an EP Study

Fasting Requirements:

You will be instructed not to eat or drink anything after midnight prior to your procedure.

Medication Considerations:

If you are taking prescription medications, you should discuss with your physician whether you should continue to take your medications on the day of your procedure. Patients who take blood thinners, such as Coumadin®, will be advised by their physicians to stop taking this medication for a period of time prior to their EP study. If you are diabetic, it is important for you to discuss with your physician how to adjust insulin and food intake prior to your procedure.

Transportation upon Discharge:

Since you will be sedated during your procedure, you must have someone with you to drive you home, unless you are staying overnight. You should pack a small bag of essentials in the event you do stay overnight. Patients whose EP study results are normal will be able to go home the same day. If your EP study detects a problem, you will be admitted to the medical center for treatment that may last up to two days.

What to Expect During an EP Study

  • You will be awake during the procedure; however, you will be given sedation to make you drowsy.
  • Your heart rate, rhythm, and blood pressure will be continuously monitored.
  • The area where the sheath will be inserted will be numbed with a local anesthetic medication. While the sheath is being inserted you may feel slight pressure.
  • The catheter is inserted through the sheath and threaded to the heart. The Electrophysiology Lab is equipped with special imaging equipment that allows the physician to view the catheter as it is threaded towards the heart. While the catheter is moving through your body you should feel no pain.
  • The catheter is connected to an EKG machine so the electrical activity of the heart can be monitored internally.
  • The electrophysiologist will then pace the heart by sending impulses through the catheter to several areas of the heart.
  • The catheter and sheath are removed when the study is completed. Pressure will be place on the sheath site, and once the bleeding has stopped, a dressing (bandage) will be applied.
  • The estimated time that it takes for an EP study is one hour.

What to Expect During Recovery from an EP Study

  • A nurse will continue to monitor your heart rate, blood pressure, pulses, and insertion site.
  • You will be instructed to lie flat with your head slightly elevated at a 30-degree angle. For a routine EP study, this time period will last for three hours.
  • If the insertion site was in your groin, you will be asked not to move your leg, since limiting the movement of your leg will help prevent bleeding.
  • Upon discharge, most patients require only minimal restrictions of their daily activities for a short period of time.


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