Electrophysiology Study (EPS)
Your doctor will order an electrophysiology study if there is a problem with the electrical impulses that control your heart's rhythm. An EPS can show if you have or are at risk of having a life-threatening heart rhythm disturbance. The EPS offers clear and accurate information about your heart's electrical system. In some cases, the cardiologist can treat the problem during the test.
A specially trained doctor will perform your EPS. It involves inserting a thin plastic tube (catheter) into the large blood vessels in your groin, then guiding it to the heart. When the catheter is in place, the doctor will send an electrical impulse through it and watch how your heart responds.
EPS Preparation Guide
Preparing for your EPS
Your doctor will explain why an EPS is necessary and what happens during the procedure. This is a good time to ask questions and share you concerns. It's helpful to have a family member or friend with you when you have this discussion. They may also have questions.
Tell your doctor what medications and supplements you take. Your doctor may have you stop taking certain medications for a time before your EPS.
Your doctor will order an EKG and lab tests to be done before your EPS.
On the day of your EPS
If you don't already have an IV, we will start one for you. Throughout your
EPS, you will receive both medications and fluids through this IV.
Your nurse will ask you to sign a consent form. If you have any questions or
concerns about your EPS, this is a good time to talk them over with your nurse.
Do not eat for 6 to 8 hours before the test. If you need to swallow pills or are thirsty, drink water in little sips.
If you take daily medications, your doctor may have your nurse hold some of them until after your EPS.
Your nurse will ask if you have to go to the bathroom. Even if you don't feel an immediate need, go! You will be lying on your back for several hours, which can be very uncomfortable if you have a full bladder.
Your family will probably be able to stay with you until we take you to a
special procedures room. Then the nurse will show them to a waiting area close by, and we will keep them informed about your progress.
During your EPS
The entire EPS can take from 1 to 6 hours. You will lie on an X-ray table that is surrounded by several machines. During the procedure, the staff will use these machines to monitor your heart.
The temperature in the room may feel cool at first. The cool temperature will help you from getting too hot when we cover you with sterile sheets.
To protect you, the doctor and staff will wear sterile gloves, protective clothing and masks
We will wash your skin and shave your groin where the catheter will enter your body (insertion site). Then we will cover the area with sterile towels and sheets to make sure it stays clean. Please do not to touch this area.
You will receive medication and be asleep during your EPS.
The doctor will place a plastic tube (sheath) through your skin at the
insertion site. This sheath protects the skin and helps guide the catheter into the major blood vessel.
When the catheter is in place, the doctor will electrically stimulate your heart and control these impulses to evaluate your heart's reaction. This information will show if you have life-threatening arrhythmia.
We will monitor you carefully.
After your EPS
After the EPS, the doctor will remove the catheter and apply a dressing over the site.
Staff will return you to your room or a special monitoring area, and your family may visit.
Your nurse will check your blood pressure, heart rate, pulses in your feet, and the insertion site frequently.
Do not bend your leg or sit up until your nurse tells you it's OK to do so.
- You may move your ankle and wiggle your toes to relieve stiffness.
- You will be able to bend your other arm or leg.
- If you wish, we can raise the head of your bed slightly.
You will be able to eat shortly after returning to your room.
Please tell your nurse if you have any concerns or questions, if your dressing comes loose, or if you feel any of the following:
- discomfort at the insertion site
- any sudden warmth or oozing under your dressing
- any numbness or tingling in your leg
When your doctor gives the OK, you will be able to get out of bed and walk with your nurse's help.
When your doctor or nurse removes the dressing at the insertion site, you may notice that the area is black-and-blue or swollen. This is normal and won't last long.
If you have to sneeze or cough, place your fingers over the bandage and hold it firmly.
Your doctor will tell you when you can go home. Have someone else drive.
For the next 2 days, take it easy.
- Do not bend over, strain or lift objects (10 pounds or more).
- Limit climbing stairs.
- You should be able to shower 24 hours after your EPS. Do not swim or sit in a bath tub or jacuzzi until your doctor says it's OK.
- Leave your dressing in place until the next day.
If you have bleeding at the insertion site, apply pressure with a clean folded cloth until the bleeding stops. Call your doctor or 911 immediately if you experience severe pain or notice bright red blood or severe swelling at the insertion site.
Most patients return to their usual routines within 2 or 3 days. Ask your doctor when you can start driving and can return to work.
Call your doctor if you have any of the following symptoms:
- severe pain or bleeding at the insertion site
- chest pain or discomfort
- a temperature of 100°F or higher
- increased redness or swelling
Ask your doctor which medications to continue taking and which to stop. Make an appointment to see your doctor for a follow-up visit.