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Cardiac Loop Recorder Insertion

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Jan 5, 2023.


What you need to know about cardiac loop recorder insertion (LRI):

  • A cardiac loop recorder is a device that continuously records your heart rhythm. It is also called an insertable cardiac monitor or implantable loop recorder. It is a small device, about the size of a USB memory stick. It is implanted in your left chest area, just under the skin. The device records patterns of your heart's rhythm, called an EKG.
  • Loop recorders are used to help diagnose heart rhythm problems that do not have a clear cause. They are also used when symptoms do not happen often, and other heart monitors have not worked. A loop recorder may be recommended for people with a fast or irregular heartbeat, fainting, seizures, or dizziness. It can also be used for long-term monitoring in people with atrial fibrillation or in people who have had a heart attack.
  • You may receive a handheld controller. You press a button on the controller when you have symptoms, such as dizziness or lightheadedness. The device will record an EKG at that moment. The recording can help your healthcare provider see if your symptoms may be caused by heart rhythm problems.
  • The device will be removed after it has collected enough data. It can be in place for up to 3 years. The procedure to remove the device is similar to the procedure used to implant it.

How to prepare for cardiac LRI:

Your healthcare provider will talk to you about how to prepare for the procedure. He or she may tell you not to eat or drink anything for at least 6 hours before your procedure. He or she will tell you what medicines to take or not take on the day of your surgery. If you take blood thinners, you may need to stop taking them several days or weeks before the procedure. You may be given antibiotics just before the procedure to help prevent an infection. Arrange for someone to drive you home and stay with you for at least 24 hours.

What will happen during cardiac LRI:

Local anesthesia will be used to numb your skin. You will be given a mild sedative to help you relax, but you will be awake during the procedure. Children may receive general anesthesia so they sleep through the procedure. A small incision will be made on the left side of your chest, or under your arm. The loop recorder device will be implanted just under the skin. You will see a small lump where the recorder is placed. Your incision will be closed with stitches and covered with a bandage.

What will happen after cardiac LRI:

You will be taken to a recovery area to rest. You may have discomfort or bruising at the implant site for up to 2 weeks. When your healthcare provider sees that you are okay, you will be allowed to go home.

Risks of cardiac LRI:

You may bleed more than expected or develop an infection at the implant site. The procedure may cause damage to your heart or blood vessels. The device may stop working.

Call, or have someone call, your local emergency number (911 in the US) if:

  • You lose consciousness.

Call your cardiologist if:

  • You feel weak, dizzy, or faint.
  • You have a fever or chills.
  • Your implant site is red, swollen, or draining pus.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Implant site care:

Carefully wash your incision with soap and water. Keep the area clean and dry until it heals.

Return to activity:

Most people can return to normal activities soon after the procedure. Your cardiologist may want to know if your work involves electrical current or high-voltage equipment. Ask about other electrical items that could interfere with your cardiac loop recorder.

Follow up with your cardiologist as directed:

You will need to return in 1 to 2 weeks. Your cardiologist will check your incision. He or she may also program your device settings again. He or she will retrieve data from the device every 1 to 3 months with a monitor held over your skin. You may be able to transmit data from your device over the phone. You will do this by calling a number provided by your cardiologist. Ask for information about this process. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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