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Electrophysiology Study (EPS)

An EPS closely monitors your heart rhythm. EPS can help find out exactly what your rhythm problem is and what can be done to control it. An electrophysiologist does the procedure in an EPS lab. An electrophysiologist is a doctor with special training in treating heart rhythm problems.

Before the procedure

Front view of female outline showing heart, major arteries and veins. Catheter inserted in femoral vein going to right heart.

  • Tell your doctor which medicines you take. Ask if you should stop taking them before the procedure.

  • Have any routine tests that your doctor recommends.

  • Don’t eat or drink anything after midnight the night before the procedure, or 8 hours before the procedure.

During the procedure

  • The study takes about 1 to 6 hours.

  • You will be given medicine to help you relax.

  • Your skin is numbed with a local anesthetic. This is usually in the groin to allow your doctor to reach the femoral vein in the leg. This can be on the right leg, the left leg, or both.

  • The doctor then makes a needle puncture and places a tube in the veins. 

  • The doctor will put in catheters and guide them through the veins to the heart.

  • The doctor will move electrodes within the catheters up into the heart. These will record the electrical activity of the heart. They find where and when the signals begin and how often they are sent.

  • Other procedures that may be done during the study. One may be defibrillation, or an electric shock to the heart to help adjust the heart rhythm. Another may be catheter ablation. This makes a small burn to destroy some abnormal cells in the heart.


When to call your doctor

Contact your doctor if: 

  • The insertion site has pain, increased swelling, redness, bleeding, or drainage.

  • You have shortness of breath or chest pain.

  • You have severe pain, coldness, numbness, or a bluish color in the leg or arm that held the catheter.

  • You have a fever over 100°F (37.8°C).

After the procedure

  • You'll need to remain lying down for a few hours.

  • You will be asked not to move your leg that had the catheter for 2 to 6 hours after the procedure. 

  • A nurse will check the insertion site and your blood pressure.

  • After the study, you may remain overnight, or you may go home the same day.

Online Medical Reviewer: Cunningham, Louise, RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Fetterman, Anne, RN, BSN
Online Medical Reviewer: Image reviewed by StayWell medical illustration team.
Online Medical Reviewer: MMI board-certified, academically affiliated clinician
Last Review Date: 2/20/2014
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