Your heart’s rhythm is controlled by electrical signals. If you have an arrhythmia (heart rhythm disorder), the electrical signals may not be working as they should. Turn to the expert doctors at Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula’s Tyler Heart Institute to diagnose and treat your condition.
Electrophysiology, or EP, is the study and care of the heart’s electrical activity. A doctor who specializes in electrophysiology is called an electrophysiologist and has years of extra education in their field.
EP procedures use minimally invasive techniques. You’ll benefit from a faster recovery time, with less pain, bleeding, or risk of infection than traditional, or open-heart, surgery.
Depending on your symptoms, type of arrhythmia, and other factors, your cardiologist may recommend:
- 3D heart mapping, also known as cardiac mapping or an EP study – Creates detailed images of the heart while monitoring its electrical activity to learn more about how it’s working
- Cardiac ablation – Uses radiofrequency energy to heat and destroy (ablate) the heart cells causing an arrhythmia
- Cardioversion – Sends a dose of electricity or medications to the heart to correct an arrhythmia
- Implantable cardiac defibrillator (ICD) placement – Inserts a device in the body that sends electrical signals to the heart when needed to restore normal rhythm
- Pacemaker placement – Puts a small device called a pacemaker into the body to help the heart keep its rhythm
Where you’ll get care
Your EP procedure will take place in our Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory. This space in the hospital has the advanced technology needed for minimally invasive EP procedures.
What to expect
During an EP test or treatment, you’ll lie on a special exam table with a large camera and several TV monitors above. A nurse will place an intravenous (IV) line into your arm to give you medications and fluids. You’ll receive a sedative, a medication that helps you relax. You’ll be awake during the procedure but may not remember it.
Electrodes will be placed on your chest. The electrodes are painless and will feel like sticky patches with lightweight wires attached. The wires go to an electrocardiogram (EKG) machine, which tracks your heart’s electrical activity.
Your electrophysiologist will numb part of your arm or groin so you don’t feel pain and make a small incision over an artery in the area. Your doctor will insert a catheter (flexible, narrow tube) into the incision and thread it up to your heart to perform your procedure. Ask your doctor how long the procedure will take.
Advanced technology improves safety
Tyler Heart Institute is one of the few facilities in the U.S. that uses a new jet ventilator, a device that minimizes the motion of breathing. If this machine is used during your procedure, the ventilator helps you take small breaths with less movement of your lungs and heart. That makes it easier and safer for your doctor to perform your procedure.
After your procedure
Following your procedure:
- You’ll receive instructions on taking care of yourself and your wound
- You may have some soreness around the incision area as the numbness wears off
- Someone else will need to drive you home. Do not drive for at least 12 hours after the procedure
Attend any follow-up appointments with your care team to make sure you’re recovering well.