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The electrophysiology lab is a specially equipped catheterization lab devoted to rhythm, or heartbeat, problems. Here, physicians can correct any number of problems, often by using extremely small electronic devices implanted in the body and connected directly to the heart.
Many rhythm problems are caused by abnormal heart tissues. The abnormal tissue creates alternate routes for the electrical pulse that cause the heart to beat. These new pathways interfere with the heart’s normal pumping action because the electrical signals aren’t being delivered correctly. Catheter ablation uses a device called a transducer, carried on the end of a catheter, to direct high frequency radio waves at the abnormal tissue, destroying it. This restores the normal electrical pathways so the heart can beat normally.
An internal cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) is a tiny device that senses and corrects abnormally fast heart rhythms. It is implanted in a small pouch under the skin near the heart. The electrophysiologist uses a catheter to thread the ICD connectors through a vein and attach them to the heart muscle.
Pacemakers sense abnormally slow heart rhythms and correct them. Like an internal defibrillator, it is also implanted just under the skin, and a catheter is used to connect it to the heart.