An electrophysiological study (EP study) is an invasive procedure that tests the heart's electrical system. The electrical system of the heart generates the heart beat.
There are several ways in which EP studies may be performed to assist in diagnosing electrical conduction system abnormalities of the heart. For example, a dysrhythmia/arrhythmia (an abnormal rhythm) may be deliberately stimulated by a physician during the EP study so that the underlying abnormal electrical circuitry can be identified. Likewise, in order to evaluate the effectiveness of an antiarrhythmic medication, an attempt may be made to stimulate the dysrhythmia.
If you have been diagnosed with a heart arrhythmia–a problem with the rate or rhythm of your heartbeat–your physician may recommend a procedure called catheter ablation to improve your condition.
Also known as a cardiac ablation or radiofrequency ablation, this procedure guides a tube into your heart to destroy small areas of heart tissue that may be causing your abnormal heartbeat.
Not everyone with a heart arrhythmia needs a catheter ablation. It's usually recommended for people with arrhythmias that can't be controlled by medication or with certain types of arrhythmia from the upper chambers of the heart. Less commonly, it may be recommended for people with arrhythmia that begins in the lower chambers of the heart.
Catheter ablation can take anywhere from three to six hours. The procedure is usually done in an electrophysiology lab or operating suite where you will be monitored closely.
Most people do not feel pain during the procedure. You may sense mild discomfort in your chest. After the ablation is over, your physician will remove the guide wire and catheter from your chest.
Physicians at Piedmont Heart Institute have been pioneering a relatively new treatment for patients with atrial fibrillation, the most common type of irregular heartbeat. The treatment, called Arctic Front® Cardiac CryoAblation Catheter system, has been successful in treating atrial fibrillation in patients who no longer responded to drug therapy.
Atrial fibrillation is a common type of abnormal heartbeat, or arrhythmia, in which the heart rhythm is fast and irregular. Arrhythmias are disorders of the heart rate or heart rhythm – the heart beats either too fast or too slow, or beats irregularly. Your heart is able to pump blood regularly by using an electrical system that makes sure it contracts (squeezes) in an orderly way. Arrhythmias cause problems with the functioning of this electrical conduction system.
Your physician might determine that surgery is needed to correct the abnormality.
Maze is a surgical procedure in which areas of the heart are cut to create a "maze" of scar tissue that prevents the erratic electrical signals from passing through the heart. It is often used to treat atrial fibrillation.
During the procedure, several incisions are made on the atria to form scar tissue to disrupt the path of abnormal electrical impulses and prevent the recurrence of erratic electrical signals. Once these incisions are made, the atrium is sewn together so that it can hold blood and contract to push blood into the ventricle.