What is an electrophysiological study?

Simply speaking, we could describe it as an electrocardiogram performed inside the heart, providing us detailed information but also the possibility for dynamic tests.

How an EP study is conducted?

Electrophysiological study is an invasive diagnostic test. Puncture of a patient’s vein (in the vast majority of the femoral vein) is required. Subsequently insertion of special sheaths through which special catheters (electrodes) are advanced into the right heart cavities is conducted. Data on the function of the cardiac treatment system are then recorded, while in addition, special tests are performed via the electrodes with or without the administration of appropriate medication.

When is it indicated?

Electrophysiological testing may be required to investigate episodes of loss of consciousness, to diagnose and / or classify cardiac arrhythmias, or to stage the risk of life-threatening arrhythmias.

Are there any risks?

Diagnostic electrophysiological study is a relatively safe, but invasive, examination. Overall complications amount to 2% with the majority being related to the very process of catheterization of the peripheral venous stem (mainly the local hematoma). Atrial fibrillation may be induced during the examination (usually resuscitated before the patient leaves the electrophysiological laboratory). Life-threatening arrhythmias may also occur as part of the examination, but it is “legitimate” for them to be diagnosed. Indeed these arrhythmias in the safe environment of the electrophysiological laboratory are resolved with proper manipulations, while if they occurred out of hospital they would potentially be fatal. Finally, in very rare cases, mechanical complications of the heart and death have been described.