Loop Recorder Implant

An implantable loop recorder, or ILR, is a heart recording device that is implanted in the body underneath the skin of the chest. It has several uses with the most common ones including looking for causes of fainting, palpitations, very fast or slow heartbeats, and hidden rhythms that can cause strokes.The machine works as an electrocardiogram (ECG), continuously picking up electrical signals from your heart which can help find abnormal heart rhythms that can cause a number of problems such as fainting.

How do I prepare for a loop recorder implantation?

While traditionally there's no special preparation for an implantable loop recorder, talk with your cardiologist about what you should do to prepare for your procedure. Follow your healthcare provider’s instructions about what medicines to take before the procedure or if you should fast prior to your appointment. Don’t stop taking any medicine unless your provider tells you to do so. He or she might order tests before the procedure, like an ECG.

What are the risks for loop recorder implantation?

Complications of the procedure are quite uncommon. However, because minor surgery is done to implant the device, patients should contact their doctor if the following symptoms present themselves:

  • Bleeding or bruising
  • Infection (might require device removal)
  • Damage to your heart or blood vessels
  • Mild pain at your implantation site

Individual risks will depend on age, other medical conditions, and other lifestyle factors.

What happens during a loop recorder implantation?

For specifics about your implantation, ask your healthcare provider about what to expect during your procedure. Normally, you can expect the following:

The procedure to insert the heart monitor is usually done in a doctor's office or medical center. You'll be awake for the procedure, no sedation is necessary. A local anesthetic will be put on the skin of the chest to numb it. Your doctor makes a tiny incision usually done in the left upper chest, inserts the device and closes the incision. The device, which is about the size of a flat AA battery, will stay in place for up to three years.

What happens after a loop recorder implantation?

Ask your healthcare provider about what to expect after your procedure. In most cases:

You will be able to go home the day of the procedure and can drive yourself home. While you will be able to return to normal activities after your procedure, you may want to rest. An implantable loop recorder is invisible and doesn't interfere with your daily activities. It has no patches or wires and you don't have to worry about getting the device wet while bathing or swimming. You may keep your loop recorder for up to 2 or 3 years. When you no longer need it, you may need to have it removed in a similar procedure.

An implantable loop recorder is considered safe for use during magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), but always let your doctor know about your implant before you schedule such an imaging test. It's also possible that an implantable loop recorder might set off metal detectors, for example, at an airport. Your doctor can provide you with a device identification card to carry with you for such situations.