An electrophysiology (EP) study is a procedure that may be done to find what is causing an abnormal heart rhythm.
An electrical signal in the heart starts each heartbeat, causing the heart muscle to squeeze (contract). Normally, this signal starts in the upper right chamber of the heart (the right atrium) at a place called the sinus node. The signal then follows pathways to the upper left atrium and to the lower chambers of the heart (the ventricles). Your child may have an abnormal heart rhythm if the electrical signals don’t follow the normal pathways or the nerve cells that make the electrical signals don’t work right.
An EP study uses small tubes called catheters inserted into a blood vessel and up into your child’s heart to check the electrical signals and pathways in the heart. This test can find if the problem is where the electrical signal starts or if the problem is the pathway that the signal takes. It can help your child’s provider find the right treatment for the problem.
An EP study may be done if the healthcare provider thinks there may be a problem with your child’s heart rhythm. For example, your child’s heart may beat faster or more slowly than normal, or it may skip beats or have abnormal beats.
An EP study can also predict the risk abnormal heart rhythm if your child was born with a heart defect.
This procedure is usually done at the hospital.
Your child will be given medicine called anesthesia to keep him from feeling pain during the procedure.
The healthcare provider will put 1 or more thin, flexible wires through a blood vessel in your child’s groin or neck and into his heart. X-rays will be used to position the catheters in the right place. The wires will check the electrical impulses inside the heart. With the wires, your provider can find the heart's electrical pathways and check their condition.
The procedure may last an hour or more.
After the procedure your child may stay in an observation area for at least a few hours. Depending on his condition, your child may need to stay in the hospital for 1 or more days.
Your child may have a bruise near the puncture site and be uncomfortable for a few days.
Follow your healthcare provider's instructions. Ask your healthcare provider:
Make sure you know when your child should come back for a checkup. Keep all appointments for provider visits or tests.
Every procedure or treatment has risks. Some possible risks of this procedure include:
Ask your healthcare provider how these risks apply to you. Be sure to discuss any other questions or concerns that you may have.