Programs & Services
Electrophysiology & Heart Rhythm Program
Diagnosis and Care
If your doctor or your child’s doctor finds or suspects a heart rhythm problem, we offer additional testing and therapies, including:
- Electrocardiogram (EKG) – measures the heart’s electrical activity
- Heart rhythm monitoring – through Holter or other wearable monitoring devices
- Loop recorder implantation – a minor outpatient procedure to insert a small device just under the skin, which can monitor every heartbeat for up to three years
- Electrophysiology (EP) study – a minimally invasive procedure to evaluate electrical activity and to identify or learn more about diagnosed or suspected arrhythmias and guide treatment
Electrophysiology (EP) Studies
In children with congenital heart conditions, an EP study can sometimes predict future arrhythmias to guide care. While your child is under conscious sedation or general anesthesia, a cardiologist gently threads electrode catheters (insulated wires) through blood vessels into the heart. Catheters track electrical signals and impulses with each heartbeat.
Computerized 3D mapping recreates the heart’s anatomy and electrical makeup in real time and beat-to-beat, providing important details about heart tissue health and arrhythmia features.
EP testing can help evaluate a possible rhythm disorder even if early test results appear normal. Doctors will talk with you about testing and treatment options, and consider these and other variables:
- Age, health and medical history
- Condition severity
- Tolerance for medications, tests or therapies
After four to six hours in a recovery area, most patients leave the hospital within 24 hours and return to normal activities in three or four days.
Some arrhythmias are manageable with observation alone or medication therapy. In some instances, doctors may recommend catheter ablation.
During catheter ablation, the electrophysiologist guides thin, flexible electrode catheters through blood vessels and into the heart to find the source of an arrhythmia. Doctors may apply hot (radio-frequency or “RF” ablation) or cold (cryoablation) energy to that part of the heart, eliminating the cells that cause the arrhythmia.
At Phoenix Children’s Hospital, our ablation therapies have a high rate of success in resolving the abnormal heart rhythm disorder, eliminating the need for lifelong anti-arrhythmic medications.
Cardiac Device Therapies
Arrhythmias and heart rhythm disorders that don’t respond to medication or ablation may require a permanent pacemaker to help regulate the heartbeat.
This small device uses low-power electrical impulses to make the heart beat. Doctors connect pacemakers to the heart with leads (small wires) placed inside or outside of the heart, depending on an individual’s size, anatomy and condition.
A pacemaker can sense each heartbeat, prompting the heart to beat if the heart rate is abnormally slow. Pacemakers can also transmit the normal signal from the upper to lower heart if the natural connection is interrupted due to conditions such as a congenital heart block or surgery.
Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillators (ICDs)
An ICD is a special pacemaker that can prompt the heart to beat with low-power electrical signals and treat abnormally fast heart rates, too. If the ICD detects a dangerously fast heartbeat and abnormal rhythm, it attempts to interrupt the arrhythmia with rapid pacing. If this does not correct the dangerous rhythm, the ICD delivers a high-voltage shock – similar to the function of lifesaving automatic external defibrillators (AEDs) found in airports or other locations.
Placing a pacemaker or ICD is not one-size-fits-all – especially in small children or in adults with complex congenital heart disease. It requires electrophysiologists with advanced expertise in treating all forms of congenital heart disease. Our electrophysiologists have high-level skills and experience in determining:
- Whether to place a device
- Which device to use
- How the device is placed
At Phoenix Children’s Hospital, our electrophysiologists take pride in individualizing care, using the latest techniques – such as His bundle pacing (electrical impulse transmission) and advanced ICDs – whenever possible to provide high-quality care.
Cardiac Device Clinic
Once doctors place a cardiac device, expert monitoring and maintenance requires coordinated care and 24/7 support. Specialized teams ensure that the device functions properly and is optimized or set to meet individual needs.
At the Phoenix Children’s Hospital Heart Center, we have one of the nation’s largest congenital cardiac device clinics, placing and managing over 850 cardiac pacemakers and ICDs in children and young adults. We monitor patients with devices every minute of every day, through our remote monitoring program.
Using innovative remote monitoring technology, specialists at Phoenix Children’s Hospital can often identify arrhythmias or abnormalities – even before symptoms are evident.
We perform over 1,200 remote monitoring interactions per year through our cardiac device clinic, reducing hospitalizations and clinic visits. You can rest easier knowing that someone is always looking out for you or your child.
At Phoenix Children’s Hospital, we provide complete care through cooperative specialties, including:
- Cardiac neurodevelopmental services
- Congenital heart disease care, including transitioning to our adult congenital heart disease program
- Heart transplant / heart failure
- Heart surgery
- Interventional cardiology
- Pulmonary hypertension
Heart specialists at Phoenix Children’s stay on the leading edge of care. From the lab to the clinic, collaborative projects among our doctors and scientists help enhance and advance heart care.
These and countless other research innovations are just part of a nonstop dedication to improving the lives of children and adults with heart disease: