Tests and treatments
What is it?
Electrophysiological testing helps your physician detect heart rhythm disturbances and to investigate its cause. This makes it possible for your physician to try to detect rhythm disturbances using electrical impulses and/or medication.
What is the process?
You will be admitted to the Cardiac Day Hospital. You will need to be fasting for your admission. This means only clear liquids (e.g. only water, tea, and coffee) for a minimum of two hours beforehand. You may eat a light meal and consume dairy products no later than of six hours beforehand, and a normal meal no later than eight hours before admission. Medication may be taken as agreed with the physician.
Sometimes, blood samples will be collected. You will be given a gown to wear. Shortly before the procedure, you can be provided with a tablet to help you relax. The nurse places an IV line in your arm for the administration of medication, should that be necessary.
The procedure is performed in the cardiac catheterisation room. You lay down on the examination table. Ten adhesive electrodes are placed to monitor your heart rhythm. An area of skin measuring 5 by 5 cm is shaved and disinfected, and adhesive sterile sheets are placed around it. Local anaesthesia (general anaesthesia may be given if requested) is administered and then a vein (or possible an artery) is poked, giving access to electrical catheters, which are led up into the heart. The X-ray tube above the chest will show on the screen where the catheters are. Electrical impulses can jolt the heart rhythm and can trigger rhythm disturbances. If necessary, IV medicine can be administered, which will make the heart beat faster.
The procedure is usually done in an hour, after which the catheters will be removed. A compression bandage will be placed on the groin. You will need to remain in bed with the compression bandage on for 8 to 24 hours. The time spent on bed rest determines the length of your stay.
After the procedure, you will rest for a few hours in order to prevent bleeding from the inguinal puncture site. For this reason, you may need to stay overnight.
Avoid physical exertion and heavy duty at work for the first few days.
What are the risks?
The procedures has very few risks. The rhythm disorders can not only be triggered, they can also be eliminated. There is no risk of internal bleeding. You may have bleed at the site in the groin. This is best avoided by using a strong bandage and by lying flat.
The results can either be reassuring or will indicate what the appropriate treatment may be. Medication, for example, may be indicated. The rhythm disorder could also be treated with an ablation, a procedure that will be performed after the electrophysiological testing. Sometimes, the electrophysiological testing may indicate that it is necessary to implant a pacemaker or an internal defibrillator.
Centres and specialist areas
Latest publication date: 28/07/2021
Supervising author: Dr Provenier Frank