What Is An EP Test, And Is It Dangerous?

Question: What is an EP test, and is it dangerous?

Answer :An electrophysiology test or EP test for short is a type of heart catheterization.

So it's a minimally invasive procedure it requires access to a blood vessel typically one of the veins, a thermal vein, in the upper portion of the leg or groin. And through that vein one places several catheters.

So if we were to do an electrophysiology test or EP test on you we would place these several catheters in your heart. We would pace the heart or speed up the heart rate and deliver pre-mature beats -- extra beats from different locations and at different timings in the heart cycle.

With this technique we can determine what type of heart rhythm you maybe subject to having and inducing or duplicating this arrhythmia we maybe able to treat it at the same time with a procedure called catheter ablation, where a catheter is positioned on the area causing the arrhythmia to try to eliminate it or destroy that area.

So an EP test can be a very useful diagnostically as a preparation for a treatment like an ablation. The risks of it are relatively small can include blood clots, bleeding around the heart, or injury to heart structures, but typically these risks total to less than 1 to 2 percent for serious complications. So it's a relatively safe and minimally invasive procedure.

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