You’ll be taken to the procedure room and made comfortable.
After your anaesthetist has given you general or local anaesthetic, the technicians will attach several electrodes to your chest. Your chest may need to be shaved for them to stick properly. Then, 1 or more long, thin plastic tubes (catheters) are inserted into your femoral vein through a small incision in your groin. They are threaded up through the vein and into your heart. Your doctor may inject dye into the catheter, which helps the team to see your blood vessels and heart with x-ray imaging.
Once the catheters are inside your heart, the electrodes at the tip of the catheters begin to record electrical signals. These electrodes also enable your electrophysiologist to stimulate your heart, try to reproduce the arrhythmia and study its response. When an arrhythmia is triggered, the data collected enables your electrophysiologist to work out what’s causing the arrhythmia and plan how to treat it.
When arrhythmias happen, your doctor may do an ablation (also known as cardiac ablation or catheter ablation) to treat the cause of the arrhythmia. The study may also provide information that leads your doctor to decide to implant a permanent pacemaker.
This may be performed at the same time as your heart rhythm study to try and treat the arrhythmia. One of the catheters used in the study provides radiofrequency energy (a bit like microwaves) or intense cold (cryoablation) to burn the tissue where the signals causing the arrhythmia are coming from.
After the ablation, your electrophysiologist will try to induce the arrhythmia again. It’s sometimes necessary to burn more than one area to stop the arrhythmia.
You may need to have a pacemaker inserted before or after the ablation.