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Maine Heart Center - Electrophysiology

A cardiologist may recommend an electrophysiology (EP) study when standard tests cannot provide enough information to evaluate an abnormal heart rhythm or arrhythmia. It offers more detailed information about the electrical activity in the heart than other tests because electrodes are placed directly on the heart. This allows the physician to pinpoint the location of an arrhythmia and to correct it.

Both the EP study and the catheter ablation are low-risk procedures. Two or more catheters are inserted into a vein in the groin. Using X-rays, the catheters are moved to specific locations in the heart. Electrodes are usually placed at the end of the catheters, which have the ability to send and receive electrical signals to and from the heart. First, the electrodes are positioned to receive signals from inside the heart's chambers, allowing measurements of the electrical impulses in the patient's heart. Next, the electrodes are used to stimulate the heart. The EP team tries to induce the arrhythmia. When it is successfully induced and if it is determined that it can be treated with catheter ablation, a cardiac mapping is done to locate the abnormal pathway. When this is located, the ablating electrode catheter is positioned and energy is delivered through the electrode to destroy the tissue in this area. The treatment is usually considered a cure.

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