Electrophysiology studies are tests that record and monitor the electrical activity
of your heart. This type of testing can determine what causes abnormal electrical
activity in the heart, as well as help your doctor determine which treatment or
medication may be most effective.
The Cardiac Electrophysiology Program at UF Health Jacksonville
is led by University of Florida cardiologists, as well as a team of skilled nurses
trained and specialized in diagnostics, treatment and continuing care of patients
with cardiac electrical problems.
Who May Need Testing
There are a variety of situations in which a cardiologist may order an electrophysiology
test or other heart monitoring studies. Diagnostic tests evaluate dizziness, palpitations,
loss of consciousness resulting from insufficient blood flow to the brain, slow
heart rate, fast heart rate, abnormal or irregular heart rhythm,
atrial fibrillation and heart failure treatment.
Your doctor may order tests for a number of reasons, including:
- Suspicion that you may have a condition that is affecting the electrical activity
of your heart and causing an irregular heartbeat.
- Testing prior to receiving an implantable cardioverter/defibrillator, so your cardiologist
knows which type of device is best suited for your condition.
- To better understand how effective your current medications are for an arrhythmia
(irregular heart beat).
Video: Symptoms of Arrythmia
Upon completion of diagnostic evaluation, our specialists may perform the necessary
intervention at the same time.
Evaluation and Diagnosis
Diagnostic procedures may include:
- Electrophysiology Study
An electrophysiology study is a test of the electrical conduction system of your
heart. The study is done by threading catheters into a vein where the leg connects
to the abdomen to measure the electrical signals generated by your heart.
- Holter Monitoring
Holter monitoring continuously records a patient’s heart rhythm, usually for 24
hours, during typical daily activities. It is especially useful in diagnosing abnormal
heart arrhythmia. Small conducting patches called electrodes are placed on your
chest and attached to a small digital recording monitor that you can carry in a
pocket or in a small pouch worn around your neck.
- Event Monitoring
Like holter monitoring, cardiac event monitoring is used to diagnose symptoms that
are infrequent or sporadic; however, the monitor is worn for a longer period of
time — about 30 days — to monitor heart rhythm and to record symptoms.
- Tilt Table Study
The tilt table test is used to determine the cause of your fainting spells. During
a tilt table study, you’ll be connected to an EKG, an oxygen monitor and a blood
pressure monitor and then strapped to a bed that’s tilted in different directions.
Your blood pressure and pulse are measured and symptoms are recorded while you are
in various positions. The test is designed to cause a fainting spell in a controlled
environment and shows how your heart rate and blood respond to changing positions.
- Loop Recorder Implantation
An insertable loop recorder is used to determine the cause of fainting or near-fainting
spells. The recorder is a small device put inside the body to record heart rhythm
during fainting or near-fainting episodes. It is activated by a handheld device
used during or after an event to store the event into the recorder’s memory. The
device is removed after one or more episodes have been stored into memory.
Preparing for an Electrophysiology Study
If you are a candidate for an electrophysiology study, you will come to the hospital
to undergo the test. Here’s how you’ll prepare:
- You may need to stop or alter your medication schedule for a few days prior to the
test. Your doctor will speak with you about this.
- You shouldn’t eat or drink anything after midnight on the night before your study.
If you’ll be taking medication that morning, take it with only a tiny sip of water.
- You should wear comfortable clothes and leave all jewelry and valuables at home.
- Since this is typically an outpatient procedure, you should bring a trusted adult
with you, such as a spouse, sibling or adult child, to drive you home afterwards.
What to Expect During Electrophysiology Testing
This test takes two to four hours from start to finish. Your nurse will begin by
inserting an intravenous (IV) line into a vein in your arm or hand so your doctor
can administer drugs and fluids during the test. You may be given some medication
to help you relax, but you will probably not be under full anesthesia. After being
cleaned and shaved, your doctor will numb your groin area.
The doctor will then insert several thin, flexible tubes — called catheters
— into the groin, through the veins and into your heart, using a tiny camera
for guidance. Once in position, the catheters will be able to capture and record
the electrical activity of your heart.
During the test, your doctor will send electrical impulses to your heart through
the catheters to evaluate how your heart responds. Once the study is complete, your
doctor will remove the catheters out through your veins and the incision in your
groin. Pressure will be applied to the incision, and you will be on bed rest for
an hour or two before being released from the hospital. Your doctor will follow
up with you on the results of the test.
Once your heart condition has been diagnosed, our specialists design a personalized
treatment plan, which may include medication, interventional procedures or surgical
procedures. Often, an interventional procedure is performed at time of an electrophysiology
Advanced treatments options provided include:
- Automatic Implantable Cardio-Defibrillator Insertion
The automatic implantable cardio-defibrillator (AICD) is a small, lightweight electronic
device that is placed inside the body, constantly monitoring heart rhythm. If it
detects a fast, abnormal rhythm, it delivers energy to the heart muscle. While the
device is not a cure for a heart rhythm problem, it can save a life by quickly bringing
a dangerously fast heart rhythm under control.
Cardioversion switches one cardiac rhythm or electrical pattern to another, almost
always from an abnormal to a normal one. This conversion can be accomplished by
using medications or by electrical cardioversion using a defibrillator, which delivers
a low-energy shock at the same time as the heartbeat, to restore a normal heart
- Laser Lead Extraction
Laser lead extraction is a method of removing worn or infected pacemaker and defibrillator
wires from patients’ hearts before implanting new ones. The lead, which passes through
a major vein in the heart and attaches to the pacemaker or defibrillator, grows
into the wall of the vein over time and becomes difficult to remove. Laser lead
extraction involves sliding a sheath over the lead containing a laser light that
removes the fibrous growth that holds the lead to the wall of the vein. The laser
has very low tissue penetration, so it effectively detaches the fibrous tissue directly
around the lead, sparing injury to the surrounding vein. Once the lead is no longer
attached to the vein wall, it may be pulled out with less risk of damage to the
- Maze Procedure for Atrial Fibrillation
The maze procedure is offered for patients suffering from atrial fibrillation, a
serious abnormality of the normal heart rhythm that affects a large population of
patients. Usually, a cardiothoracic surgeon will perform a modified maze procedure
in which radio frequency applicators are used to eliminate the abnormal heart rhythm.
While most maze procedures are performed in conjunction with heart valve surgery,
it is also possible to treat atrial fibrillation in patients having no heart valve
- Permanent Pacemaker Insertion
A permanent pacemaker is used to correct disturbances to the normal rhythm of your
heart by analyzing the function of the heart’s own electrical system and, when necessary,
sending tiny, precisely timed electrical signals to the heart to correct certain
abnormalities in the heart’s electrical system.
- Radio Frequency Ablation
Radio frequency ablation is a nonsurgical treatment for people with an abnormal
heart rhythm, or arrhythmia, in which a long, flexible wire is passed into the heart
to eliminate the precise area of the heart causing the arrhythmia. Radio frequency
ablation scars or destroys heart tissue, which triggers abnormal rhythms, bringing
the heart back to normal rhythm.
- Resynchronization Therapy through Biventricular Pacemaker Insertion
A biventricular pacemaker is an artificial pacemaker or implantable cardio-defibrillator
designed to treat congestive heart failure. In many heart failure patients, the
walls of the left ventricle — the heart’s main pumping chamber — are no longer synchronized,
or pumping together as they normally would. A biventricular pacemaker is designed
to resynchronize the pumping action of the left ventricle.
Why Choose UF Health for Electrophysiology
Our doctors are the region’s leaders in providing the most complete evaluation of
patients’ hearts’ electrical needs and matching that with the most technologically
advanced care of pacemakers, defibrillation therapy or ablation therapy. Our specialists
are professors and researchers in one of the nation’s largest cardiothoracic training
programs — the University
of Florida College of Medicine – Jacksonville — and are able
to offer more treatment options than other facilities, which in many cases means
better outcomes for cardiovascular patients. We offer a comprehensive atrial fibrillation
center where the electrophysiologist and cardiothoracic surgeon use innovative technology
to improve the quality of life for our patients.
Jacksonville Electrophysiology & Arrhythmia Specialists
John N. Catanzaro, M.D., M.B.A., FACC, FESC, FHRS
Associate Medical Director, Electrophysiology Program; Program Director, Clinical Cardiac Electrophysiology Fellowship
Specializes in Cardiovascular Disease; Clinical Cardiac Electrophysiology
201 B Lakeshore Point
St. Marys, GA 31558
Ambulatory Care Center, 5th Floor
655 West 8th Street
Jacksonville, FL 32209
15255 Max Leggett Parkway
Jacksonville, FL 32218