Implantable loop recorder

Some arrhythmias such as syncope (blackouts or fainting) are intermittent, making it difficult to detect them with ECG or 24-hour monitoring.  In these cases, a clinician might consider an implantable loop recorder (ILR).

An ILR is used to monitor heart rhythms for months at a time if the symptomatic episodes are less frequent than every 30 days. The device can remain in place for up to three years.

An ILR is a thin device that is inserted just beneath the skin in the chest area.  Once implanted, an ILR can determine whether fainting is related to a heart rhythm problem.


Fitting an ILR

If you need an ILR, the fitting is carried out in a day clinic and takes between 15 – 20 minutes. A local anesthetic is used to numb a small area of your skin. Once the device has been positioned under the skin the incision is stitched.

A small dressing will be applied and you will be advised when to remove it. You might be given antibiotics to minimize infection. The wound should be kept clean and dry until it is healed, although it is safe to bathe and shower.

A clinician will program the ILR to the required settings, this only takes a few minutes. Programming and data retrieval is done wirelessly, and this procedure is painless. Before you return home the doctor will explain how and when to use your activator.

Using an ILR

An ILR can capture your heart’s activities during a blackout. This will allow the doctor to diagnose or rule out an abnormal heart rhythm.

To capture and record an episode, you are required to place a handheld activator over the ILR. When in place, press the button in order for the device to save the information. This should be done while experiencing symptoms or as near to the event as possible.

It is important to carry the activator with you so that any episode can be recorded.

You will then be asked to return to the clinic for the results to be downloaded.

You may have received a loop recorder with remote capabilities. This will mean you can send any stored information to your doctor via a phone line from your own home without having to go to clinic.

In some instances, these results may produce a diagnosis. If so, the ILR may be removed and appropriate treatment will be given.

Removing your ILR

Once your heart’s activity has been recorded during your symptoms and the doctor is satisfied that any heart-related causes are identified or ruled out, the device will be removed.

The removal of the ILR is similar to when you had it implanted and can be carried out in a day clinic.

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