Electrophysiology and Device Insertions
- Electrophysiology Studies
- Atrial Fibrillation Ablations or Radiofrequency Ablation
- Pacemaker Insertion
- AICD Insertion
Electrophysiology studies are performed to discover arrhythmias. During the procedure, catheters are placed in peripheral veins or arteries and moved to the heart. They record cardiac electrical signals and determine the spread of the electrical impulses during each beat, to show where a heart blockage may be. This test can also show where tachycardia originates better than an EKG may.
Atrial Fibrillation Ablations or Radiofrequency Ablation:
Atrial fibrillation causes an irregular heart rate or pulse caused by chaotic or unorganized electrical activity in the upper chambers of the heart. During an ablation, a catheter is positioned inside the heart. Radio energy is applied to the tip of the catheter to cauterize (ablate) heart tissue around the pulmonary veins. Abnormal electrical signals from the pulmonary veins can then no longer reach the rest of the heart to trigger the atrial fibrillation.
A pacemaker is a small device inserted into either the chest or abdomen to control heart rhythms. It uses electrical pulses to prompt regular heartbeats. Pacemakers are used to treat arrhythmias, which can cause the heart to beat too fast, too slow or with an irregular rhythm, resulting in not enough blood being pumped to the body.
An endocardial approach is the most common method of pacemaker insertion. Local anesthetic is given to numb the area and an incision is made where the leads and pacemaker are inserted. The leads are inserted into a vein and guided to the heart where they attach to the muscle. The other end is placed in a pocket of skin in the upper chest.
The use of a biventricular pacemaker implants leads (tiny wires) through a vein into the right ventricle and into the coronary sinus vein to pace or regulate the left ventricle. This pacemaker keeps the left and right ventricles pumping together by sending small electrical impulses through the leads. When a patient suffers from heart failure, often the right and left ventricles are not pumping together, and often the left ventricle is unable to pump enough blood to the body. This can lead to shortness of breath, dry cough, swelling in the ankles and legs, weight gain, increased urination, fatigue and rapid or irregular heartbeat. Use of this pacemaker has been shown to improve symptoms of heart failure and the overall quality of life in patients with severe symptoms that can’t be controlled by medicine.
An implantable cardioverter defibrillator (AICD) is a device that monitors for and corrects episodes of rapid heartbeat. It is implanted in the chest during a minor surgical procedure. It is similar to a pacemaker, however an AICD is typically used only to correct rapid heart rhythms. Patients who have had previous heart attacks with weakening of the left ventricle, a history of ventricular tachycardia, coronary artery disease or cardiac arrest may be candidates for AICD insertion.