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Implantable loop recorder

An ILR is a small device, about the size of a USB stick, that is programmed to record abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias) as they happen.

Your doctor has recommended you undergo the installation of an implantable loop recorder (ILR).

You might not have heard this medical term before now and may be feeling unsure about the nature of the procedure.

This information sheet will outline what the procedure involves and what risks are involved.

After you read this information sheet, you might still have questions. If you do, please contact the team at Heart HQ. We’re here to help.

What’s an ILR?

An ILR is a small device, about the size of a USB stick, that is programmed to record abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias) as they happen. The device also allows you to record your heart rate or rhythm when you experience symptoms by simply holding a handheld ‘activator’ over the device.

The ILR will be implanted into your chest and stay there recording for up to three years.

How does it work?

An intravenous line (IV) will be placed into a vein in your arm. This is for the medical team to administer medication throughout your procedure. An antibiotic may be given to you through the IV to prevent infection of your new ILR. A sedative will also be given.

You will have an injection of local anaesthetic. Your ILR will usually be put in on the left of your breast bone. Your doctor will make a small incision in your skin to inject the ILR under your skin.

Once completed, we will close the incision using dissolving a suture.

You will need follow-up appointments on a regular basis at the clinic or though our remote home monitoring service. We will check the operation of your ILR and review any abnormal heart rhythms stored on the device. The ILR battery last around two to three years but it cannot be recharged. When the battery is nearly empty the device will be removed.

What kind of risks are associated with this procedure?

Any kind of procedure carries some element of risk, often very small and rare.

Your doctor has balanced the benefits and risks of carrying out the test against the benefits and risks of not proceeding. If your doctor has recommended this procedure, they believe there is benefit to you going ahead.

It’s important you understand the risks involved so you can make an informed decision.

Here are the most commonly reported risks and complications associated with an ILR installation.

Uncommon risks and complications (1–5% of cases)

  • Bleeding or bruising
  • Infection—may require device removal
  • Mild pain at the implantation site

Implantable loop recorder info sheet