Implantable Loop Recorder Placement
What is an Implantable Loop Recorder?
An implantable loop recorder (ILR) is a small, diagnostic device that is implanted in your chest, just under the skin and during a short outpatient procedure, to records the patterns of your heart rhythm like an electrocardiogram. The recording can help your Saint John’s Physician Partners cardiologist determine if your symptoms such as dizziness, fainting or palpitations are related to heart rhythm problems. An ILR continuously loops its memory with automatic triggers to store recordings, and can also be patient activated. The ILR can also be used for long-term monitoring of people with atrial fibrillation, or those who have had a heart attack. The device will be removed once your doctor has collected enough data and can be in place for up to 3 years. It is a diagnostic tool that offers no therapy.
Why an Implantable Loop Recorder?
Your cardiologist may recommend an ILR if you have fainting episodes or palpitations whose cause have not been explained through other tests. It allows your cardiologist to confirm or rule out if an abnormal heart rhythm is the cause of your symptoms, leading to a correct diagnosis and treatment.
Implantable Loop Recorder Potential Risks and Complications
As with any medical procedure, there are risks to an implantable loop recorder, but most people have the procedure without any problems. Your own risks will depend upon your age and other medical conditions your may have. Potential risks and complications of an ILR may include:
- Bleeding or bruising.
- Damage to your heart or blood vessels.
- Mild pain at the implantation site.
- The device may stop working.
Preparing for an Implantable Loop Recorder
Your Saint John’s Physician Partners cardiologist will give you instructions to help you prepare for the procedure based on your medical history, diagnosis and your current state of health. You may need to stop eating or drinking after midnight prior to the procedure and be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions on taking your current medications, especially blood thinners. You should arrange for someone to drive you home after the procedure.
What to Expect
What to Expect During an Implantable Loop Recorder Placement
During the Procedure
You can normally expect the following during an ILR procedure:
- You may be given medicine to help you relax.
- A local anesthetic will numb your skin.
- Your doctor will make a small incision in your skin, usually in the left upper chest.
- A small pocket will be created under your skin and the device will be place in the pocket.
- The device is about the size of a USB stick.
- The incision will be sutured and a bandage placed on the area.
After the Procedure
Once the procedure is finished, you can expect to go home. Be sure someone will drive you home. You may want to rest, but should be able to return to your normal activities. You may take pain medicine if needed. Be sure to let your doctor know if you have bleeding or swelling at the implant site.
The ILR is programmed to record certain fast and slow heart rates. You may be given a handheld activator to tell the recorder to save signals in between programmed recordings.
Be sure to keep your follow-up appointments with your cardiologist and let him know if you experience any adverse symptoms.