When something goes wrong in the heart’s electrical system, the result is a very rapid or disorganized heartbeat - a condition known as a dysrhythmia.
Cardiologists at the Utah Valley Regional Medical Center use electrophysiology studies to investigate these irregular heartbeats and then find the best solution for each patient. An electrophysiology study (EPS) is an all-encompassing test of the electrical system of the heart. During the study, the heart is paced in various ways to study the speed and location of the flow of electricity within the heart. In essence, it is an electrical “test drive” to see if the heart has a tendency to go into potentially harmful rhythms.
Coronary artery disease, electrolyte imbalances in the blood, changes in the heart muscle, injury from a heart attack or the healing process after heart surgery all have the ability to bring on a dysrhythmia. Dysrhythmia can also happen to someone with a normal, healthy heart. Anyone who has concerns about dysrhythmia should talk to their primary care physician or make an appointment to see a cardiologist.
Services Available in the Electrophysiology Lab
Ablation is a technique used to treat abnormalities of the heart's electrical system that has caused the heart to beat fast, irregularly, or with too many extra beats. It involves ablating (destroying) a very small, targeted area of the heart muscle. By destroying the area responsible for the abnormal rhythm, ablation restores a normal heartbeat. Learn more.
Electrocardiograms (EKG, ECG)
An electrocardiogram, or EKG, is a simple, painless test that records the heart's electrical activity. To understand this test, it helps to understand how the heart works.
With each heartbeat, an electrical signal spreads from the top of the heart to the bottom. As it travels, the signal causes the heart to contract and pump blood. The process repeats with each new heartbeat. The heart's electrical signals set the rhythm of the heartbeat. Learn more.
Electrophysiology Study (EP)
Electrophysiology study is an invasive test that allows doctors to determine the details of abnormal heartbeats, or arrhythmias. The study involves placing wire electrodes in the heart to measure electrical activity along the heart's conduction system and in heart muscle cells themselves. Learn more.
Intracardiac Echo (ICE)
An intracardiac echo (ICE) involves inserting a tiny catheter with an ultrasound sensor into a blood vessel, then passing it into the heart to enhance the images of the internal structures of the heart. ICD is often used to provide guidance as devices or balloons are placed into the heart. Learn more.
Laser Lead Extraction
If a cardiac lead or pacemaker lead is infected, not working or surrounded by too much scar tissue, it may need to be removed. Laser Lead Extraction uses special catheter-guided lasers. It cold, controlled laser energy to free the lead from surrounding scar tissue. This lets the doctor safely remove the lead with little risk of damaging the heart. Learn more.
Pacemakers and ICDs
A pacemaker monitors the electrical impulses in the heart. When needed, it delivers electrical pulses to make the heart beat in a more normal rhythm. A pacemaker may be helpful when the heart beats too slowly or has other abnormal rhythms. An ICD is a device that monitors heart rhythms. If it senses dangerous rhythms, it delivers shocks. Many ICDs record the heart's electrical patterns when there is an abnormal heartbeat. This can help the doctor plan future treatment.
An implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) is a small device that's placed in your chest or abdomen. This device uses electrical pulses or shocks to help control life-threatening, irregular heartbeats, especially those that could lead the heart to suddenly stop beating. An ICD is similar to a pacemaker, but there are some differences. Pacemakers can only give off low-energy electrical pulses. They are often used to treat less dangerous heart rhythms, such as those that occur in the upper chambers of your heart. Most new ICDs can act as both pacemakers and ICDs. Learn more.
For Septal Ablation, a doctor injects ethanol (a type of alcohol) through a catheter into the small artery that supplies blood to the thickened area of heart muscle. The alcohol kills cells, and the thickened tissue shrinks to a more normal size. This allows blood to flow freely through the ventricle, and symptoms improve. Learn more.