An implantable loop recorder is a type of heart-monitoring device that records your heart rhythm continuously for up to three years.

What is an implantable loop recorder?

An implantable loop recorder is a type of heart-monitoring device that records your heart rhythm continuously for up to three years. It records the electrical signals of your heart and allows remote monitoring by way of a small device inserted just beneath the skin of the chest. The loop recorder acts like a silent memory stick, it silently records your heart rhythm and rate.

An implantable loop recorder can help answer questions about your heart that other heart-monitoring devices can't provide. It allows for long-term heart rhythm monitoring. It can capture information that a standard electrocardiogram (ECG) or Holter monitor misses because some heart rhythm abnormalities occur infrequently.

How can I prepare for my implantable loop recorder procedure?

Follow these preparation steps to prepare for your implantable loop recorder procedure. Contact your doctor or the implantable cardiac electrical devices coordinator if you have any questions prior to your procedure.

How should I prepare for my appointment?

Do the following at least one week before your procedure:

  • Organize a ride to and from Royal Columbian Hospital or Jim Pattison Outpatient Care and Surgery Centre, depending on where your procedure is booked. You cannot drive right after the procedure. We will tell you after the procedure when you can drive again.
  • Arrange to have someone with you in hospital if you would like someone to help you keep track of the information we give you, or if you need help reading or speaking English.
  • Have someone stay with you for a day when you return home.
  • Purchase a skin cleaning product: Aloe Med Wet Washcloth Wipes or Comfort Shield Dimethicone Washcloths or equivalent from your pharmacy.

How can I prepare for my implantable cardiac monitoring or implantable loop recorder implant?

Follow these preparation steps to prepare for your pacemaker procedure. Contact your doctor or the implantable cardiac electrical devices coordinator at 1-855-529-7223 if you have any questions prior to your procedure.

What to bring to procedure day:

  • BC CareCard (personal health card)
  • Photo identification, such as a driver’s license or passport
  • List of all medicines you are taking (prescription medications, medicines without prescription, vitamins, supplements, herbals, natural remedies, other drugs)
  • All medications in their original containers (prescription and medicines without prescription)
  • Dentures and case
  • Hearing aids with a spare battery and case
  • Glasses and case
  • Walking aids (such as cane or walker)
  • Remember to leave valuables such as jewellery, money, and credit cards at home

Eating and drinking:

Unless your doctor has told you otherwise:

  • Eat a snack the evening before your procedure.
  • Do not eat any food after midnight (12:00 a.m.).
  • If you are thirsty during the night, drink as much clear liquids as you like (such as water, clear juice, or clear tea).
  • At 5:00 a.m. the morning of your procedure, drink one or two glasses of clear apple or cranberry juice.     
  • Do not drink any liquids after 5:00 a.m.

Cleaning your skin the evening before your procedure:

  • Remove any make up, nail polish, and jewellery.
  • Clean the skin of the front of your upper body to your waist, your neck, and both under arms with a skin cleansing product (Aloe Med Wet Washcloth Wipes or Comfort Shield Dimethicone Washcloths or equivalent).
  • For the pre-packaged wipe: Use the wipe to clean your skin as described above. Do not rinse your skin. Let the product dry on your skin.
  • For the liquid, soap, or brush: Wash, rinse, and dry your skin.
  • Do not shave any part of your upper body. We will remove any hair if needed.
  • Do not put on body products after the skin cleaning, such as perfume, lotion, deodorant, or powder.
  • Put on freshly washed clothes.

Taking your medication the morning of your procedure:

  • Take all medications you normally take in the morning with a small sip of water, unless your doctor has told you something different.
  • If you have diabetes, do not take your diabetic medication before coming into hospital, unless your doctor has told you to. Bring your diabetic pills or insulin with you to the hospital.
  • If you are taking blood thinners, ask your doctor about when to stop taking this medication before the procedure.

What is done during an implantable loop recorder procedure?

It takes less than an hour to insert the implantable loop recorder. We use a special room that looks like an operating room to insert pacemakers. Before inserting the implantable loop recorder, we ask you to change into a hospital gown. You can wear your socks and underpants. You can wear your glasses and hearing aid during the procedure. We will ask you to take out your dentures just before we start. Remember not to wear jewellery.

The surgeon will explain the procedure to you before you go to the procedure room. You will be able to ask questions. We will then ask you to sign consent for the procedure and consent for your personal information to be stored outside of Canada.

We give you medicine to help you relax before the procedure. This medicine may make you feel drowsy. We start an intravenous line (a tube put into your vein used to put medicine or fluid directly into your blood). We give you an antibiotic through your intravenous just before your procedure to help prevent infection. We attach you to a heart monitor.

The doctor then injects numbing medicine (freezing) into the area where the pacemaker is being inserted so you do not feel pain during the surgery. This freezing wears off in four to five hours. Your doctor will make a small incision in your skin. This is usually done in the left upper chest. Your doctor will create a small pocket under your skin. He or she will place the loop recorder in this pocket. The device is about the size of a flat AA battery. Your incision will be closed with sutures. A bandage will be put on the area. The device can stay in place for up to three years.

Resources

The following resources have information about the implantable loop recorder:

Fraser Health Patient Education

More information on loop recorders