Implantable Loop Recorder
What Is an Implantable Loop Recorder?
An implantable loop recorder (ILR) is a small monitoring device (about the size of a USB memory stick) that an electrophysiologist (EP) inserts underneath the skin on the left side of your chest. This device will continuously monitor and record your heart rhythm for prolonged periods of time. Its battery can last up to 3 years.
Implantable loop recorder (curtesy of Medtronic Inc, Minneapolis, MN)
Implantable loop recorder Reveal Linq (Medtronic Inc., Minnieapolis, MN)
Who Will Benefit from an Implantable Loop Recorder (ILR)?
Implantable loop recorders enable your physician to monitor your heart rhythm closely for a much longer period of time than is possible with traditional wearable cardiac monitors. ILRs help electrophysiologists (EPs) determine when abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias) cause fainting (syncope), seizures, palpitations, irregular heartbeats, chest pain, or stroke.
ILRs are especially useful if a patient's symptoms do not present often. For instance, if the patient has episodes of palpitations or fainting spells (syncope) every 4 or 5 months, capturing the arrhythmias that may cause these isolated episodes with a wearable heart monitor is challenging.
The implantable loop recorder, which remains inside the patient's chest for months or years, can identify possible arrhythmias when new episodes occur.
ILRs play a vital role in detecting the presence of atrial fibrillation (AFib) as a hidden cause of stroke.
The ILR Implantation Procedure
The ILR is implanted through minor surgery, allowing you to go home the same day the procedure is performed. The procedure can be done in your doctor's office or at a healthcare facility, such as a hospital or clinic.
When your ILR implantation is scheduled, you will receive instructions on how to prepare for the procedure. There is usually no need to fast or stop taking any medications before the ILR implantation. However, make sure you follow the instructions you receive from your doctor.
To help prevent infections, we recommend that patients take a shower the day of the procedure or the night before.
Before the procedure, a nurse will prepare the area of your chest where your doctor will insert the ILR. The physician will inject a numbing medication called lidocaine into your skin, make a small incision, and insert the device underneath your skin. Once the implantable loop recorder is in place, your doctor will close the incision with an absorbable stitch and cover the wound.
After the procedure is completed, you will receive instructions on wound care and on scheduling follow-up appointments with your doctor. The doctor may also prescribe an antibiotic that you will take for 5 to 7 days to decrease the risk of infection at the site where your device was inserted.
At the end of the procedure, you will receive:
- A home monitor: You will be told to connect this monitor to a power source in your bedroom, within 6 feet from your bed. This monitor will wirelessly and automatically communicate with your ILR every night, download the information, and transmit it to your doctor.
- A patient symptom activator: This is a small, pager-sized device that allows you to manually prompt the monitor to record your heart rhythm when you have symptoms.
- An ILR Identification card: You will receive a copy of your ILR identification card at the time of your procedure. You will then receive the original identification card in the mail. Always carry the card with you, especially when you travel.
How Does the Implantable Loop Recorder (ILR) Work?
The implantable loop recorder is programmed to detect heart rhythm abnormalities (arrhythmias), record them, and store them in its memory. It can also record your heart rhythm if you manually trigger it when you experience symptoms.
The device is programmed to communicate with the home monitor at a certain time each day (usually between 1 and 4 am) and to transmit the daily recorded data to the central monitoring center. The ILR also sends a monthly summary of the recordings to your physician.
If the ILR detects certain arrhythmias, the monitoring center will send a warning to your physician right away. Your doctor will then review the notification and will discuss it with you.
Your doctor can also retrieve the recordings using a manual programmer when he or she sees you in the office or at the hospital. You can also send an additional report through your home monitor, if requested by your physician.
Ensure that your home transmitter is always connected to power and is working properly.
For How Long Should I Keep the Implantable Loop Recorder (ILR)?
The battery of the implantable loop recorder lasts up to 3 years. Your physician will let you know when it is time to remove the ILR.
Can I Use Electronic Devices When I Have an Implantable Loop Recorder (ILR)?
In general, home appliances such as microwave or electric ovens, and commonly used electronic devices, such as cell phones, tablets, and computers, do not interfere with your ILR.
Certain electronics such as muscle stimulators can cause faulty readings. Ask your doctor for more information about devices that may cause interference with an ILR.
Can I Have an MRI or CT Scan if I Have an Implantable Loop Recorder (ILR)?
You can safely have a computed tomography (CT) scan, X-rays, or an ultrasound if you have an ILR.
Some types of implantable loop recorders can be safely worn during a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) test. Ask your doctor if your ILR is MRI-safe.
Questions to Ask Your Doctor about Implantable Loop Recorders (ILR)
If you already have or are scheduled to receive an implantable loop recorder, you may want to ask your doctor any of the following:
- Why do I need the implantable loop recorder (ILR)?
- How is the device implanted?
- What are the risks of the procedure?
- How long is the recovery?
- Can I travel or drive after the procedure?
- What activities should I avoid after the procedure?
- Can I engage in competitive sports?
- Does it interfere with home appliances, cell phones, or other electrical devices?
- Can I have a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) test?
- Can I have a mammogram?
- Can I have an ILR if I have a breast implant?
- Can I become pregnant? Can I breastfeed?
- Do I have to stop taking blood thinners before ILR insertion?
- How is the ILR removed?
- Will my insurance pay for the ILR implantation and monitoring?
- Will my doctor bill me monthly for the reports?
- Should I carry the patient activator at all times?
- Should I take my home monitor with me when I travel?
- Should I take an antibiotic before dental work?
Cardiologist and Cardiac Electrophysiologist in Houston, TX
To learn more about implantable loop recorders, schedule a consultation with Dr. Alireza Nazeri in Houston, Texas. Call (713) 909-3166 today.
- Back to Patient Education
- What Is an Implantable Loop Recorder?
- Who Will Benefit from an Implantable Loop Recorder (ILR)?
- The ILR Implantation Procedure
- How Does the Implantable Loop Recorder (ILR) Work?
- For How Long Should I Keep the Implantable Loop Recorder (ILR)?
- Can I Use Electronic Devices When I Have an Implantable Loop Recorder (ILR)?
- Can I Have an MRI or CT Scan if I Have an Implantable Loop Recorder (ILR)?
- Questions to Ask Your Doctor about Implantable Loop Recorders (ILR)