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Electrophysiology (EP)

What is Electrophysiology?

Electrophysiology is a branch of cardiology dealing with abnormalities of the electrical activity of the heart (arrhythmias). These may involve the heart beating too quickly, irregularly or slowing down excessively. Patients can present to the service after suffering palpitations, dizzy spells, blackouts and other related symptoms. You may get referred to the service by your GP, paediatrician or a heart specialist from another hospital.


During a typical outpatient assessment with one of our specialist consultants we carry out a number of tests including heart rhythm recording (ECG) and heart ultrasound scan (Echocardiogram). Heart monitors are often fitted before patients leave the clinic to help make a diagnosis as soon as possible. Patients may be called back for an exercise test or more detailed heart scans such as an MRI.


Most heart rhythm problems can be diagnosed following such a review but occasionally a keyhole procedure (Cardiac Catheterisation) is needed to confirm the problem and this is often combined with a definitive treatment called an ablation.


We work closely with Birmingham Childrens Hospital to provide seamless care from childhood to adulthood for all heart rhythm problems. For children with heart conditions and for adults with congenital heart problems we offer the following services:


 Medication treatment to control and prevent rapid heart rhythm abnormalities (tachyarrhythmias)

 Pacemakers for slow heart rhythms (heart block). As part of this programme we are developing a home monitoring service meaning that children with pacemaker can have their devices checked remotely by our specialist cardiac physiology team. This provides the same high level of care but  significantly reduces the number of visits to the hospital

 More complex devices i.e. implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (ICD) that reset the heart rhythm if dangerously fast and cardiac resynchronisation therapy (CRT) to help treat impaired heart function

 Ablation (key hole procedure) of tachyarrhythmias such as supraventricular tachycardias, atrial fibrillation, atrial flutter, accessory pathways and ventricular ectopics/tachycardias

 Injection of miniaturised heart rhythm monitors (implantable loop recorder) under the skin that can provide years of information about the heart’s activity


The children’s electrophysiology service is based in the Kensington building at the LRI together with all the other children’s heart services. Glenfield Hospital is the home for the electrophysiology service for adults with congenital heart disease.