Heart arrhythmia is a condition that affects the rhythm of the heartbeat, causing it to beat too fast, too slow, or irregularly. This can lead to a variety of symptoms, such as palpitations, dizziness, and fainting. Electrophysiological studies and ablation are two procedures that are commonly used to diagnose and treat heart arrhythmia. Let’s discuss the basics of these procedures and answer some frequently asked questions.
What are Electrophysiological Studies?
Electrophysiological studies (EPS) are a type of diagnostic procedure that measures the electrical activity of the heart. During an EPS, thin, flexible wires called catheters are inserted into a vein in the groin or neck and threaded up to the heart under moderate sedation. Once in place, the catheters can measure the electrical signals that the heart produces when it beats.
Why are Electrophysiological Studies Done?
EPS are done to diagnose the cause of heart arrhythmia. By measuring the electrical signals within the heart, doctors can pinpoint the location of the problem and determine the best course of treatment.
What is Ablation?
Ablation is a procedure that is used to treat heart arrhythmia and typically follow the EPS when the cardiologist has located the problem in the EPS. During an ablation, a catheter is inserted into the heart and used to deliver energy (radiofrequency or cryo) to the area of the heart that is causing the arrhythmia. This energy ablate the tissue that is causing the problem, restoring the heart’s normal rhythm.
When is Ablation Recommended?
Ablation is recommended for patients who have persistent or recurrent heart arrhythmia and remained symptomatic despite other treatments, such as medication. It may also be recommended for patients who have a high risk of complications from medication or who prefer a non-pharmacologic treatment option.
What are the Risks of Electrophysiological Studies and Ablation?
Both EPS and ablation are generally safe procedures, but there are some risks involved. These may include bleeding, infection, inadvertently damaging to the heart conduction pathway or blood vessels. Your doctor will discuss the risks and benefits of these procedures with you before you undergo them.
You will be expected to stay overnight in the hospital and return to normal activities within a week or two.