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Electrophysiological study

Estudi electrofisiològic a Vall d'Hebron

It is a diagnostic test for patients with heart disease, or suspected heart disease, who have heart beat disorders, known as "arrhythmias." This technique allows us to know the type and severity of the arrhythmias, the place in the heart where they originate from and the disorders they produce, meaning we can better focus treatment.

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General Hospital

Where to find it


How does it work?

To conduct an electrophysiological study, it is necessary for patients to have fasted, and they must be conscious, sedated and lying down. Once in the examination room, local anaesthesia is applied to the area of the skin where the puncture will be performed, which is usually the groin, the arm or the neck.

Through the veins or arteries where the puncture has been made, several catheters (very thin, long, flexible cables) that go to the heart, always under radioscopic control, are inserted. The catheters are used to constantly record the electrical activity of the heart from inside. They also serve as pacemakers, when they are connected to an external stimulating device. Sometimes it is necessary to administer a drug during the test to diagnose arrhythmia.

The duration of the study depends, and once the test is performed, the patient must rest in bed for a few hours.



It is common for patients to notice palpitations at many moments during the examination, as they may be caused by catheters or by the medication administered. Sometimes it may be necessary to apply an electric shock to solve a sudden problem. Most of the time the patient will only feel a slight discomfort in the puncture area, and bruising may occur, which will normally disappear on its own. Other complications related to the procedure (phlebitis, venous or arterial thrombosis, vascular complications requiring surgery, haemorrhages requiring transfusion, cardiac perforation with difficulty breathing, pulmonary or systemic embolism) are uncommon, although some of these are serious and require urgent action. The risk of death is highly unlikely (1 in 3,000).

Other risks or complications that could appear, given the clinical situation and personal circumstances.

Given your clinical condition, the benefits from performing this test far outweigh any possible risks. If complications appear, the medical and nursing staff on hand are qualified and able to try to solve them.

Healthcare specialisations