An implantable loop recorder (ILR) becomes necessary when a patient’s symptoms are too infrequent to be captured with other simpler and more conventional monitoring devices. These include 24-hour EKG monitors or event monitors that are worn on the skin for periods of 24 hours and up to 4 weeks.
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The ILR is a long term rhythm monitoring device that is inserted under the skin for the purpose of diagnosing an unknown or suspected abnormal heart rhythm. The ILR constantly monitors the heart rhythm and its battery provides up to three years of rhythm surveillance. When an arrhythmia is automatically detected and recorded, it is saved in the device’s memory and is accessible to your doctor by wireless download. The recorder can also be triggered by the patient when symptoms are experienced.
The implantation procedure involves local anesthesia and a small incision the width of a fingernail through which the device is slipped under the skin of the left chest wall. The newest ILRs are about the size of four matchsticks put together in a bundle. The procedure takes less than an hour and the patient can generally be discharged home afterwards.
Significant complications from the procedure are rare and include infection or bleeding, requiring the device to be removed. They occur in less than 1% of the cases.
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