Electrophysiology and Ablation
A Simple Explanation
Electrophysiology is a diagnostic tool that is used to help correct arrhythmias through Catheter Ablation.
This is a group of conditions where the heartbeat is irregular, either too fast or too slow. There are different types of Arrhythmia; some are based on the rate, mechanism, duration and even the origin of the heartbeats.
Signs & Symptoms
The most common symptom would be awareness of the abnormal fast heartbeat, also called palpitations. These may be infrequent, frequent, or continuous, depending on which it could be either ‘skipping a beat’ or a ‘fluttering’ sensation.
Please Don’t Panic: Not every irregular heartbeat or arrhythmia could be fatal, especially when they are occasional. As you grow older, the Arrhythmias are common.
The serious symptoms that can develop include:
Fainting or near- fainting spells
Rapid heartbeat or pounding
Shortness of breath
In extreme cases, collapse and sudden cardiac arrest
Medical assessment of the abnormality using an electrocardiogram is one way to diagnose and assess the risk of any given arrhythmia.
Electrophysiology study is a test to measure the electrical activity of the heart and to diagnose arrhythmia or abnormal heart rhythms.
During this, the electrophysiologist, a cardiologist with specialized training in the electrical system of the heart, will use special electrode catheters (long, thin, flexible wires) to the heart, normally through the groin area. Through this test, the area (of the heart) responsible for the arrhythmia is determined.
Ablation is a treatment that cauterizes (burns) cells to eliminate rhythm abnormalities in patients. Ablation can be done either using the Transcatheter Ablation or the Catheter Ablation approaches.
In Catheter approach, radiofrequency is used to destroy the small area of the heart tissue that causes the abnormality. While in the Transcatheter approach, allow for therapeutic ablations.
The Actual Procedure
Usually, both Electrophysiology study and Ablation are performed at the same time. This is a relatively safe procedure, albeit with the potential risks. The estimated time for the procedure may vary from 3 to 6 hours or more, depending on the condition of the patient.
The specialist doctors, at the control station, will place the catheters into two large blood vessels, one in the neck entering through the top of the heart and the other in the groin entering through the bottom of the heart. This two-directional insertion of the catheters improves the doctor’s maneuverability. They stimulate an abnormal heart rhythm, diagnose and locate the source of your abnormal rhythm. They will then direct radiofrequency energy to the heart tissue to treat it.
Patient’s Role in this Procedure
You may have to fast 6-8 hours prior to the procedure.
Inform your doctor of your past allergies, and any other ailments (including diabetes), if any.
Please consult with your doctor regarding the medications you are taking for any of your ailments.
A tiny hole that looks like a bug bite will remain, leaving no scar.
Before you are discharged, you will be given instructions to be followed at your home.
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