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What are the possible risks of an electrophysiology (EP) study?

Risks and potential complications of an electrophysiology (EP) study are:
  • Bleeding or infection where the catheter was inserted (rare, and we use precautions and antibiotics to prevent this)
  • Allergic reaction to x-ray contrast media (dye) (very rare)
  • Damage to the artery or heart (extremely rare)
  • Heart attack or stroke (extremely rare and not typically caused by the procedure itself)
  • The need to use an electric shock to restore a normal heartbeat during the procedure (rare)
  • Low blood pressure or buildup of fluid in the sac that contains the heart (rare)
  • Clots developing at the tip of the catheter (rare)
The risk associated with EPS is minimal and can be different for each person. The risks of EPS are bleeding, infection, and blood clots. Your doctor will discuss these risks with you in more detail before the procedure is done.
Possible risks of an electrophysiological (EP) study, an invasive procedure that tests the heart's electrical system, include, but are not limited to, the following:
  • Stimulation of more severe rhythm problems
  • Bleeding from the catheter insertion site(s)
  • Damage to the vessel at the catheter insertion site(s)
  • Infection of the catheter site(s)
  • Perforation of the heart (rare)
You may want to ask your physician about the amount of radiation used during the procedure and the risks related to your particular situation. It is a good idea to keep a record of your past history of radiation exposure, such as previous scans and other types of x-rays, so that you can inform your physician. Risks associated with radiation exposure may be related to the cumulative number of x-ray examinations and/or treatments over a long period of time.

If you are pregnant or suspect that you may be pregnant, you should notify your physician due to risk of injury to the fetus from an EP study. Radiation exposure during pregnancy may lead to birth defects. If you are lactating or breastfeeding, you should notify your physician. Patients who are allergic to or sensitive to medications or latex should notify their physician.

For some patients, having to lie still on the procedure table for the length of the procedure may cause some discomfort or pain.

There may be other risks depending upon your specific medical condition. Be sure to discuss any concerns with your physician prior to the procedure.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.