What is an implantable loop recorder?

An implantable loop recorder (ILR) is a small device, smaller than a USB stick, that is able to continuously monitor your heart rate and rhythm. The ILR is inserted underneath your skin, near your breastbone. The device is able to pick up the electrical activity from your heart.

The ILR can also be manually activated (with an activator) to record a short segment of your heart rhythm when you are experiencing symptoms.

Why do I need to have coronary angiography?

Your doctor will recommend an ILR to determine whether particular symptoms you might be experiencing are related to a problem with your heart rhythm/electrical activity. These symptoms might include:

  • Dizziness/light-headedness
  • Unexplained blackout/fainting
  • Palpitations (racing heart)
  • Seizures

Insertion of an ILR is a procedure that is performed under local anaesthetic in a cardiac catheter laboratory for the purposes of sterility.  A small, 1-2 centimetre incision is made in your chest wall and the device is inserted into a small pocket made underneath your skin.

Can I eat or drink before my procedure?
You do not need to fast prior to your procedure.

Do I take my medications on the day of the procedure?
Your doctor may advise you to stop taking blood thinning medications up to 2-5 full days before your procedure.

Where do I go to have the procedure?
ILR insertion is performed at Peninsula Private Hospital in the cardiac cath lab.

This is a day procedure – you will be admitted and discharged on the same day of the procedure.

What do I need to bring?
Your hospital admission paperwork with a signed consent form, health insurance details and Medicare /DVA card.

What do I wear?
Wear clothing that is easy to remove as you will be asked to change into a hospital gown prior to the procedure.

How much will it cost?
Doctors at Peninsula Heart Centre do not charge out of pocket fees for your procedures at Peninsula Private Hospital.  Our doctors subscribe to the ‘No-Gap-Scheme’ and patients will not be charged any extra fees (your private health insurance covers the gap).

What happens during the procedure?
Throughout the procedure you will be awake, and you may be offered sedation to relax.

You will be given a local anaesthetic to numb the area over your lower left chest where the doctor will make the incision. The doctor will gently insert the device under the skin.  Dissolvable stitches may be used to close the incision and a dressing will be applied.

How long does the procedure take?
The actual procedure takes about 10 minutes but the whole process from admission to discharge takes about 1-2 hours.

What are the risks?
Implantation of an ILR is a low risk procedure and most people do not experience any complications. Risks include:

  • Haematoma/bruising at the insertion site, especially if you are taking blood thinners. This should settle after a couple of weeks.
  • Infection – there is a very small chance that an infection will develop at the site of the device; if this happens, it will be necessary to remove the device to clear the infection.


After the procedure

Getting home
You will need to organise for someone to come and pick you up from the hospital to take you home 1-2 hours after the procedure.

What will I need to do after I go home?
You may experience some bruising in the area of the implantable loop recorder. Call your doctor if you experience any increased tenderness, redness or swelling of your wound.

A small, waterproof dressing is placed over the wound. You will be asked to return to Peninsula Heart Centre for a routine ILR check and removal of the dressing 10 to 12 days after the procedure.

Generally, you can resume your blood thinners the following day.

The technician will give you specific instructions on how to set up the Loop recorder monitor at home. ILRs can be active for up to 3-4 years, at which time you can choose to remove or leave the device under the skin.

A copy of the procedure and subsequent checks of the device information will be sent to your referring doctor and copies placed in your medical history.

Implantable loop recorders are routinely checked every 6 months.  Peninsula Heart Centre will notify you if there are any heart rate or rhythm issues detected during the period of monitoring thereafter.