Mapping and Ablation
Electrophysiology Study (EP Study)
An electrophysiology study (EP Study) is an invasive catheterization procedure that provides detailed information about the nature and behavior of the heart's internal electrical signals. The EP study maps the heart's electrical activity to pinpoint the exact location of the arrhythmia.
EP studies are performed at Providence Regional Medical Center Everett in a specially equipped laboratory within the Heart Institute.
An electrophysiologist (a cardiologist who specializes in clinical cardiac electrophysiology) inserts small platinum and plastic catheters into the heart using one or more veins. As many as six electrocatheters, each containing 4-12 platinum wires, are inserted into the heart and connected to physiologic monitoring equipment.
The procedure takes 1-4 hours and is usually followed by a short period of bed rest. EP study patients are often released on the same day or within 24 hours.
Radiofrequency Catheter Ablation
This highly sophisticated procedure takes place in the EP Lab and is performed by an electrophysiologist and a specially trained staff. It is used to treat an abnormal rhythm caused by one or more extra heart fibers, or a small region of damaged heart muscle, that generates electrical signals of its own.
During the 3-6 hour procedure, electrode catheters are introduced into the heart, (much like in the EP Study), to record the heart's electrical activity. The heart is stimulated electrically to initiate the abnormal rhythm. The catheters are moved around within the heart to pinpoint the source of the arrhythmia. Then the ablation catheter is positioned at the site and radio-frequency current is slowly applied. Application of the frequency current creates a pea-size scar in the heart which blocks the abnormal electrical activity and allows the heart to function normally.
A patient is often allowed to go home in 24 hours and return to work and normal activity soon thereafter. Most often it eliminates the need for rhythm-controlling medication.