Intracardiac electrophysiology study (EPS)

Definition

Intracardiac electrophysiology study (EPS) is a test to look at how well the heart's electrical signals are working. It is used to check for abnormal heartbeats or heart rhythms.

Alternative Names

Electrophysiology study - intracardiac; EPS - intracardiac; Abnormal heart rhythms - EPS; Bradycardia - EPS; Tachycardia - EPS; Fibrillation - EPS; Arrhythmia - EPS; Heart block - EPS

How the Test is Performed

Wire electrodes are placed in the heart to do this test. These electrodes measure electrical activity in the heart.

The procedure is done in a hospital laboratory. The staff will include a cardiologist, technicians, and nurses.

To have this study:

Other procedures that may also be done during the test:

Cardiac conduction system

Watch this video about:
Cardiac conduction system

How to Prepare for the Test

You will be told not to eat or drink for 6 to 8 hours before the test.

You will wear a hospital gown. You must sign a consent form for the procedure.

Your health care provider will tell you ahead of time if you need to make changes to the medicines you regularly take. DO NOT stop taking or change any medicines without first talking to your provider.

In most cases, you will be given medicine to help you feel calm before the procedure. The study can last from 1 hour up to several hours. You may not be able to drive home afterward, so you should plan for someone to drive you.

How the Test will Feel

You will be awake during the test. You may feel some discomfort when the IV is placed into your arm. You may also feel some pressure at the site when the catheter is inserted. You may feel your heart skipping beats or racing at times.

Why the Test is Performed

Your provider may order this test if you have signs of an abnormal heart rhythm (arrhythmia).

You may need to have other tests before this study is done.

An EPS may be done to:

What Abnormal Results Mean

Abnormal results may be due to abnormal heart rhythms that are too slow or too fast. These may include:

There may be other causes that are not on this list.

The provider must find the location and type of heart rhythm problem in order to determine the proper treatment.

Risks

The procedure is very safe in most cases. Possible risks include:

References

Miller JM, Zipes DP. Diagnosis of cardiac arrhythmias. In: Bonow RO, Mann DL, Zipes DP, Libby P, Braunwald E, eds. Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 34.

Olgin JE. Approach to the patient with suspected arrhythmia. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 62.



Review Date: 5/5/2016
Reviewed By: Michael A. Chen, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Medicine, Division of Cardiology, Harborview Medical Center, University of Washington Medical School, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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