Electrophysiology Study (EPS)

ElectrophysiologyStudy (EPS)


What Is an Electrophysiology Study (EPS)?

An electrophysiology study, also called an EP study or EPS, is a test that can help your doctor better understand what’s happening with your heart’s electrical system.

Your doctor may recommend an EPS if you have an arrhythmia, or abnormal heart rhythm. You might also need an EPS if you regularly faint (a condition called syncope) and your doctor needs to determine the cause.

An EPS is the standard test to determine whether an implanted device such as a pacemaker or implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) would help treat your heart rhythm problems.

If an electrical problem is causing your heart symptoms, your doctor may do a catheter ablation (a procedure to treat the abnormal rhythm) at the same time as your EPS.

World-Class Care

Experienced Care During Your Electrophysiology Study (EPS)

The EPS is one of Aurora Health Care’s specialties. As one of the region’s most active and experienced cardiovascular centers, we provide outstanding care. We offer:

  • Experience and expertise: Our Cardiac Electrophysiology Division is one of the best-established and active heart teams in eastern Wisconsin and northern Illinois. With many full-time cardiac electrophysiologists throughout our health system, you may be able to have an EPS at several Aurora locations.
  • Specialty treatment rooms: Our cardiac electrophysiology lab at Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center offers hybrid catheterization labs/operating rooms (ORs). Our specialists – including electrophysiologists, cardiologists, heart surgeons and others – can perform minimally invasive catheter treatments/tests and surgical procedures at the same time, when needed.
  • Personalized care: Every professional you see, from our support staff to your electrophysiology specialist, is dedicated to your comfort and care. We explain every step of your EPS so you know what to expect.

Preparing for Testing

How to Get Ready for Your Electrophysiology Study (EPS)

Your doctor will give you preparation instructions before your EPS. Your instructions may vary slightly, depending on your personal situation. To prepare at home before your procedure:

  • We typically ask you to avoid eating or drinking anything after midnight the night before your EPS.
  • Follow your doctor’s specific orders about whether and when to stop taking medications (both prescriptions and over-the-counter supplements).
  • Arrange to have someone drive you to your test and take you home afterward.
  • If you wear a hearing aid, please wear it during your EPS so you can hear our instructions. If you wear glasses, bring them with you to your test.

What to Expect

What Happens During an Electrophysiology Study (EPS)?

We’ll perform your EPS in an Aurora cardiac electrophysiology lab. You may also hear it called a catheterization or cath lab. The procedure room (where your EPS takes place) is always a bit cool in temperature.

Depending on what we do during the test and how long we keep you in recovery, you can expect to be at the hospital for one to four hours.

During Your EPS

In general, you can expect the following during your EPS:

  1. A nurse will insert an intravenous (IV) line into your arm. We will use the line to give you a sedative to help you relax, but you will be awake for the EPS. Your doctor may also administer other medicine through your IV.
  2. We’ll disinfect and may shave the spots where we’ll insert your catheter – usually your groin area or neck. We’ll also numb your catheter puncture sites with medicine. We’ll cover you with a surgical drape during the procedure.
  3. Your doctor will thread several catheters through the incision site into a blood vessel, then guide them into your heart, with the help of a tiny camera and video screen. You may feel pressure as your doctor inserts the catheters, but they shouldn’t hurt.
  4. Part of the test involves your doctor sending different types of electrical signals through the catheters to see how they affect your heart rhythm. At times, it may feel like your heart is racing.
  5. We will record your heart rhythms throughout the test to determine exactly what’s causing your arrhythmia. If your doctor decides it will improve your condition, we may do a procedure called “ablation” during your EPS. Ablation gently removes small portions of heart tissue that is causing the arrhythmia. Learn more about catheter ablation.


Recovering from Your EPS

We will watch you for a few hours in the hospital to be sure you safely recover. We’ll take you to a recovery room and keep you on bed rest for several hours. Medical staff members will check your heart rhythm and catheter puncture sites to be sure they are healing.

Before you leave the hospital, we’ll give you detailed instructions on how to care for your puncture sites, how active you can be for the next several days and how to watch for possible complications.

Your doctor will be in touch to let you know what we learned during your EPS, and whether we recommend any further testing or treatment.

EPS Risks

Complications after a study are rare, but could include:

  • Pain, swelling, bleeding or redness at the catheter insertion sites
  • Feelings of coolness, numbness or tingling in your leg, if your catheter went through your groin
  • Fever and/or chills
  • Chest pain, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, fainting and excessive sweating

Your doctor will give you a phone number to call if you have any of the above symptoms, or if you have questions about your recovery.

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