Electrophysiological Study and Catheter Ablation for Heart Rhythm disorders

Electrophysiology studies (EPS) are performed in some patients with heart rhythm disorders. During the procedure, the electrical wiring and function of your heart is systematically evaluated. Catheter ablation may then be performed to prevent recurrence or even cure the heart rhythm abnormality.

What happens during the procedure?

Small, flexible wires (catheters) are inserted through blood vessels in your groin and threaded through these vessels to the inside of your heart. The catheters have electrodes at the tip through which electrical signals in your heart can be analysed.

An X-ray machine and a system akin to your car’s GPS navigation system is used to create a complex anatomical and electrical “map” or geometry of your heart. The system is used to pin-point the areas of your heart responsible for generating or propagating the heart rhythm abnormality. A catheter (ablation catheter) is then used to deliver energy that heats or freezes to treat the target area. Depending on the complexity of your heart rhythm disorder, the procedure may take anywhere between one to several hours to complete.

Are there any Risks to having Electrophysiology studies and Catheter Ablation?

Catheter ablation is safe, but as with all medical procedures it carries some risk. Less than 1% of procedures result in serious complications.Risks may be higher for complex ablations. The most common risks are bleeding or bruising in the groin, at the site where the catheters are inserted into the blood vessels.This is usually a minor problem. Other potential serious complications include injury to the blood vessels or heart chambers (which may require surgical correction), stroke, heart attack and very rarely death. There is a small risk of damage to the heart’s normal electrical pathways. If this happens, you may need to be fitted with a pacemaker to stop your heart from beating too slowly.