What is an EP Study?
An EP study is an accurate method of assessing the heart's electrical function. It allows doctors to locate abnormal sites inside the heart that may be causing serious arrhythmia (abnormal heart rhythms).
During an EP study, doctors insert special electrode catheters (long, flexible wires) into veins and guide them into the heart. Once inside, the catheters can sense electrical impulses in various areas of the heart; they can also be used to stimulate different parts of the heart.
Why is the EP Study Important?
The EP study provides more accurate and detailed information about the heart's electrical function than other diagnostic tests. It helps doctors diagnose the problem accurately and enables them to choose the most effective treatment.
EP studies are most useful in people who have had life-threatening arrhythmias and in people with persistent symptoms in whom suspected arrhythmias could not be diagnosed with other tests.
How the Heart Works
Before discussing the details of the EP study, it helps to understand how the heart works. Click here to read how the heart works.
Abnormal Heart Rhythms
An abnormal heart rhythm, or arrhythmia, is a change in either the speed or pattern of the heartbeat. During an arrhythmia the heart may beat too slowly, too rapidly or irregularly.
An arrhythmia may be experienced as a skipping or fluttering sensation in the chest (palpitation). It may also cause lightheadedness, fainting spells, chest pain or shortness of breath. Sometimes, arrhythmias may go unnoticed.
An arrhythmia becomes serious when the heart beats too slowly or too rapidly to pump blood effectively, or when there is a threat to the person's life.