How It Feels
will feel a sharp sting when the local anesthetic is injected to numb your skin
at the catheter insertion site.
When the catheter is inserted, you
may feel a brief, sharp pain. The movement of the catheter through your blood
vessel may cause a feeling of pressure, but it is not usually considered
painful. You may feel your heart skip when the catheter touches the walls of
your heart. This is normal.
The temperature in the catheterization
lab is kept cool so that the equipment does not overheat. For many people, the
hardest part of the test is having to lie still for an hour or longer on the
hard table. You may feel some stiffness or cramping.
Don't be afraid to speak up if you're
worried about anything during the test. The doctors, nurses, and technicians
want to know exactly how you're feeling.
especially important to tell the doctor if you have any of these symptoms
during or after the test:
- Chest pain
- Extreme shortness of
- Trouble speaking or
Paralysis in any part of your
You may have some soreness and bruising at the insertion
site. This should disappear in 2 weeks. It is normal for the site to feel
tender for about a week. But call your doctor if:
- Your arm or leg becomes pale, cold, painful, or
- You have redness, swelling, or discharge from the catheter
- You have a fever.
An electrophysiology study is considered safe. The risks of this test are small.
The more common complications are not serious. They include bleeding or bruising where the catheters were put in.
Serious complications are rare. But they include extra bleeding after the test, puncture of the heart, and damage to the electrical system
of the heart that requires a pacemaker.
Very serious complications, such as heart attack or stroke, are very rare.
This test is not usually done during pregnancy, because
it involves X-rays. Radiation could damage the developing
Anytime you are exposed to radiation, including the low
levels of X-ray used for this test, there is a chance of damage to cells or
tissue. But the risk of this damage is usually very low compared to the
possible benefits of the test.
An electrophysiology study will show whether you have an
abnormal heartbeat that needs treatment. (Sometimes the treatment is done
during the test.)
What Affects the Test
Reasons you may not be able to have the test or
why the results may not be helpful include:
- Extreme anxiety that causes high blood pressure and irregular
- Kidney or liver failure.
- Not being able to
follow directions during the procedure.
- Not being able to lie flat.
- Ongoing bleeding problems or infection.