Loop Recorder Implantation and Removal
What is a Loop Recorder
A Loop Recorder is a tiny cardiac rhythm monitoring device that is implanted beneath the skin of the left side of the chest. The device, unlike a pacemaker, does not have leads that travel through the veins into the heart. It is much smaller than a pacemaker and has a battery that last for 3-4 years. When the device senses an arrhythmia such as a heart rate that is too slow, or too fast or irregular, it stores that rhythm strip in its memory. When the patient approaches a monitor typically kept at the bedside, the stored arrhythmia is wirelessly downloaded to the bedside monitor which then transmits the information to the Pacemaker Clinic at Orlando Heart & Vascular Institute for physician review.
Who Needs a Loop Recorder
Many patients have intermittent symptoms such as lightheadedness, dizziness, palpitations or even syncope (sudden, unexpected loss of consciousness) or stroke due to a variety of abnormal heart rhythms that may only occur very infrequently – sometimes only once every few weeks or even once every few months. When symptoms occur more frequently, shorter term monitoring devices such as a Holter Monitor (24 hours) or Mobile Cardiac Telemetry or Event Monitor (1-4 weeks) may be adequate. However, for symptoms that occur less frequently or for patients who have difficulty wearing an external monitor for days or weeks, the implantable loop recorder is an ideal monitoring option. Once an arrhythmia is identified, the loop recorder can be used to monitor the success of the treatment whether that includes medications or a cardiac ablation procedure. If a pacemaker (or defibrillator) is placed, the loop recorder can be removed at the time of the pacemaker surgery.
A loop recorder is implanted over the left chest wall underneath the skin under local anesthesia. The procedure only takes a few minutes. A small incision, about ½ inch is made, and device is then slid under the skin. The incision can be closed with steri-strips or with a suture and the patient can be discharged home immediately afterwards. Loop recorders can be placed in the hospital, in the ambulatory surgery center or in the cath lab… some physicians even implant them in their office!