What is a loop recorder?
A loop recorder is but highly sophisticated heart rhythm monitoring device. The device detects, analyses, and documents heart rhythm when it goes too slow, too fast or irregular. It is only a diagnostic tool used to detect problems and to guide management. A loop recorder does not fix heart rhythms.
It is the size of a AAA battery and is placed just under the skin. The device has special electrodes on its surface that allows heart rhythm detection. It lasts generally between 2-3 years.
Do I need a loop recorder?
Loop recorder is usually recommended in people with unexpected loss of consciousness or unexplained stroke.
Are there different types of loop recorders?
Yes, different companies manufacture these devices with their own unique offerings. Common loop recorder brands include Medtronic, St Jude Medical and Biotronik.
What happens during the procedure?
Loop recorder insertion / explant is a very common procedure and takes approximately 15-20 minutes. Procedure is usually performed in the catheter laboratory or operating theatre. Procedure can be performed under sedation or under local anaesthesia only. With sedation, you will be given some medications through the cannula to make you comfortable for the procedure. Given the procedure is expected to be quick, many people choose not to have any sedation. If you have the procedure performed under local anaesthesia without sedation, you can leave the hospital sooner and do not need anyone to escort you. We generally recommend sedation for your comfort, especially if you are anxious about the procedure. Once you are comfortable, the upper chest is usually shaved again if needed, cleaned with a special antiseptic wash. A long sterile drape is placed over the site. The drape comes up to your face. You will have someone to assist you if needed. Local anaesthetic is administered at the incision site which numbs the area. You’ll feel an initial sharp and burning or pricking sensation when the local anaesthetic is injected but it quickly becomes numb in less than a minute. You may feel a pulling / pushing sensation during the operation which is normal. A 1-2 cm cut is made around mid-left chest. A special tool is used to inject the loop recorder into position which takes about 30 seconds. In some cases, a little absorbable suture is required to prevent the loop from falling out and a water-resistant dressing applied on top of the wound. Loop explants is similar to implant procedure but takes a few minutes to locate and remove. The incision tends to be slightly longer (2-3cm).
What happens after the procedure?
At the end of your procedure, a simple dressing is applied over the device site. You are expected to leave after a few hours of monitoring if you have had sedation. Someone will have to escort you.
What happens after discharge?
- The dressing on your wound should be left in place for one weeks. You may shower, as it is waterproof, but you cannot submerge yourself in a bath or pool.
- One weeks after the operation, please see your GP to have the dressing removed. Do not remove or change the dressing before this time.
- If the wound becomes red, hot, swollen, more painful or starts to drain fluid, see your local doctor immediately, or call my rooms on 9500-0296.
You will be given a card with the details of your loop recorder. A permanent card (resembling a credit card) will be sent to you in about two months. Show this to the security check at the airport.
You will be sent an appointment to see me for a pacemaker check in my rooms in 2-3 months. Usual follow up thereafter is 12 monthly appointments to keep track of the device function. It is recommended that you continue your usual follow up with other treating specialists and medical practitioners involved in your care as usual. If you do not receive an appointment, please call the rooms.
Do I have to take it easy once I have a loop recorder?
You can participate in your physical activity after one week. Keep the dressing dry for atleast 1 week.
How long do loop recorders last?
They last about 2-4 years.
Can I have an MRI scan?
Yes, MRI scans can usually be performed with a functioning loop recorder. If they have reached end of their battery life, some loop recorders must be explanted prior to having an MRI. Check with your doctor about the details.
We can monitor the function of your pacemaker while you are at home via remote monitoring. Please refer to the remote monitoring section for more information.
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