This is a very effective and revolutionary method that is used for testing and assessing heart rhythms. It is, however, only available at specialist hospital centres.

Fine tubes (electrode catheters) are placed into a vein, which is most often accessed via the groin. However, veins under the collarbone or in the neck may also be used.

The electrode catheters are gently moved into position in the heart where it stimulates the heart and records the electrical impulses. The patient may experience a feeling of having palpitations (a sensation of feeling the heart beating inside the chest). Before the test is performed, a local anaesthetic is normally applied to the area where the cut is made.

How does this test assist the clinician with making a diagnosis?

The continuous monitoring of the heart rhythm during electrophysiological testing assists to pick up (diagnose) abnormal heart rhythms as well as the area in the heart where it originated. This test also shows whether administration of specific medications control the abnormal rhythm sufficiently.

In addition, doctors may treat the problem that has been diagnosed at the same time as performing the test by making use of high-frequency radio waves. This method of treatment is called radio frequency ablation.

Are there any risks involved?

In rare instances, the hearts natural pacemaker (atrioventricular node) may be damaged by accident. When this happens, the patient needs to receive an artificial pacemaker.

Damage to blood vessels may also occur, causing a certain amount of loss of blood.

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