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Electrophysiology Study and Catheter Ablation: Before Your Procedure

Catheter ablation

What is an electrophysiology study and catheter ablation?

An electrophysiology study is a test to see if there is a problem with your heart rhythm and to find out how to fix it. It is also called an EP study. A catheter ablation procedure is sometimes done at the same time. This procedure destroys (ablates) small areas of your heart that are causing your heart rhythm problem.

The doctor puts plastic tubes called catheters into blood vessels in your groin, arm, or neck. He or she then uses an X-ray machine to guide long, flexible wires called catheters through the tubes and to your heart. Your doctor uses the catheters to record your heart's electrical signals.

If the doctor thinks your problem can be fixed with ablation, he or she can destroy a small part of your heart tissue. This is usually done with radio waves.

You will probably be awake during the procedure. But you might be asleep. The doctor will give you medicines to help you feel relaxed and to numb the areas where the catheters go in.

An EP study and ablation can take 2 to 6 hours. In rare cases, it can take longer. If you have an EP study only and you don't need more treatment, you may go home the same day. But if you also have ablation, you may stay overnight in the hospital. How long you stay in the hospital depends on the type of ablation you have.

Do not exercise hard or lift anything heavy for a week. You may be able to go back to work and to your normal routine in 1 or 2 days.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How do you prepare for the procedure?

Procedures can be stressful. This information will help you understand what you can expect. And it will help you safely prepare for your procedure.

Preparing for the procedure

  • Understand exactly what procedure is planned, along with the risks, benefits, and other options.
  • Tell your doctor ALL the medicines and natural health products you take. Some may increase the risk of problems during your procedure. Your doctor will tell you if you should stop taking any of them before the procedure and how soon to do it.
  • If you take aspirin or some other blood thinner, ask your doctor if you should stop taking it before your procedure. Make sure that you understand exactly what your doctor wants you to do. These medicines increase the risk of bleeding.
  • Make sure your doctor and the hospital have a copy of your advance care plan. If you don't have one, you may want to prepare one. It lets others know your health care wishes. It's a good thing to have before any type of surgery or procedure.
  • Be sure you have someone to take you home. Anesthesia and pain medicine will make it unsafe for you to drive or get home on your own.

Procedures can be stressful. This information will help you understand what you can expect. And it will help you safely prepare for your procedure.

What happens on the day of the procedure?

  • Follow the instructions exactly about when to stop eating and drinking. If you don't, your procedure may be cancelled. If your doctor told you to take your medicines on the day of the procedure, take them with only a sip of water.
  • Take a bath or shower before you come in for your procedure. Do not apply lotions, perfumes, deodorants, or nail polish.
  • Take off all jewellery and piercings. And take out contact lenses, if you wear them.

At the hospital or surgery centre

  • Bring a picture ID.
  • You will be kept comfortable and safe by your anesthesia provider. The anesthesia may make you sleep. Or it may just numb the area being worked on.
  • This procedure can take 2 to 6 hours. In rare cases, it can take longer.
  • After the procedure, pressure will be applied to the area where the catheter was put in your blood vessel. Then the area may be covered with a bandage or a compression device. This will prevent bleeding.
  • Nurses will check your heart rate and blood pressure. The nurse will also check the catheter site for bleeding.
  • If the catheter was put in your groin, you will need to lie still and keep your leg straight for several hours. The nurse may put a weighted bag on your leg to keep it still.
  • If the catheter was put in your arm, you may be able to sit up and get out of bed right away. But you will need to keep your arm still for at least 1 hour.
  • You may have a bruise or a small lump where the catheter was put in your blood vessel. This is normal and will go away.

When should you call your doctor?

  • You have questions or concerns.
  • You don't understand how to prepare for your procedure.
  • You become ill before the procedure (such as fever, flu, or a cold).
  • You need to reschedule or have changed your mind about having the procedure.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

Enter C658 in the search box to learn more about "Electrophysiology Study and Catheter Ablation: Before Your Procedure".

Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.