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Electrophysiology Study

An electrophysiology study is performed to evaluate the electrical activity of the heart. The purpose of the electrical system of the heart is to coordinate the pumping of the four chambers of the heart and to control the heart rate so that the heart speeds up and slows down as the demands of the body change (see fig.1). The SA node starts the electrical signal (see fig. 2, #1). The electrical signal then travels through the atria causing them to contract. Then it passes through the AV node (see fig. 2, #2), the bundle of His, and bundle branches and then out to the muscle fibers of the ventricles (see fig. 2, #3 and #4). As the impulse spreads, the muscles contract and the ventricles pump. To perform an electrophysiology study, three to five electrically sensitive catheters are placed inside the heart to record electrical activity (see fig. 3 and 4). These recordings locate abnormal tissue that causes irregularities in the heartbeat (arrhythmias). Figure 1: Parts of the electrical system of the heart. Figure 2: Flow of electrical signals through the normal heart. Figure 3: Catheter guided into place inside the heart. Figure 4: Electrophysiology recording.

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