Private implantable loop recorder test

An implantable loop recorder (ILR) is a small electronic recording device that’s inserted under your skin to record your heart’s electrical activity. If your symptoms indicate that this type of monitor is needed, our specialists can fit you with an ILR implant. 

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At HCA UK we offer:

  • Appointments with an electrophysiologist available within 24 hours
  • Ranked No.1 for private electrophysiology care
  • 99% of cardiac patients would recommend us to their friends or family
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Signs you might need an implantable loop recorder

You might need an implantable loop recorder if you're experiencing any of the following symptoms that can’t be explained by a routine ECG test

  • Regular, unexplained heart palpitations (a fluttering or pounding feeling in the chest or neck) 
  • Syncope (loss of consciousness or blackouts)
  • Dizzy spells

Or you may need an ILR because you have one of the following conditions:

  • An unexplained previous stroke (cryptogenic stroke)
  • A heart condition which puts you at risk of potentially serious heart rhythm problems

The symptoms listed above can indicate several heart conditions. If you're experiencing any of them, make an appointment to see a consultant as soon as possible. They may conduct tests to identify potential underlying causes and recommend an ILR implant if long-term monitoring is necessary. At HCA UK, you can see a GP with same-day and next-day appointments to ease your concerns. 

What other reasons are there for having an ILR implant fitted?

An implantable loop recorder may also be recommended if you are at risk of developing atrial fibrillation (irregular and fast heartbeats in the top chambers of the heart), or if you’ve had a stroke that may have been caused by it. Your risk of stroke is higher if you are diagnosed with certain types of cardiac arrhythmia such as atrial fibrillation.

Additionally, an internal loop recorder may be used to identify heart rate and rhythm problems in adults with congenital heart disease. They're sometimes used following an acute coronary event, such as a heart attack, to monitor electrical activity in the heart. 

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Get leading care for your symptoms or condition 

  • #1 for private cardiovascular care: More people trust us for their care than any other private healthcare provider in the UK. We see over 25,000 patients each year, with 99% recommending us to their friends and family.
  • Rapid access: We can confirm an appointment with an electrophysiologist within 24 hours to discuss your condition and the implantable loop recorder (ILR) procedure, if appropriate. Your results will be interpreted by experts and available within 48 hours, with recommended treatment options if needed. 
  • High-quality facilities: Our private hospitals and outpatient centres are equipped with the most up-to-date technology and facilities, ensuring you receive exceptional care from diagnosis to treatment and recovery. 
  • Leading specialists: Our expert cardiologists are supported by a diverse team of sonologists, clinical nurses and other healthcare specialists who work together to deliver the highest levels of care. 

What is an implantable loop recorder?

An implantable loop recorder, also called an ILR, is a small, rectangular electronic device that's the size of 2 matchsticks stuck together. It’s inserted under the skin at the bottom of the breastbone on the left side of your chest. Its purpose is to record your heart's electrical activity, monitoring your heart rhythm and heart rate over a long time. This monitoring process is designed to find the cause of infrequent symptoms or heart rhythm problems. 

Once inserted, the implant is invisible. It has no patches or wires, so it won’t interfere with your daily activities.

What does an ILR implant look like?

A cardiac loop recorder is around 1.5 inches long (45mm), 7mm wide and 4mm deep. The case is made of metal and plastic and contains electrodes, electrical circuits and a battery.

As the ILR implant sits just beneath your skin, you might notice a faint outline if you are slim. However, once it's in place, it shouldn’t cause you any pain or discomfort.

How does an implantable loop recorder work? 

Implantable loop recorders monitor your heart rate and rhythm and record abnormal electrical activity. The recorded information is stored in its memory but also transmitted to a secure monitoring network via your mobile phone using Bluetooth. This system is known as remote monitoring. Our highly trained cardiac physiologists review remote monitoring systems for many types of cardiac rhythm devices every day and liaise with our cardiologists and medical teams to review. 

Your implant will begin recording your heart’s activity automatically if it recognises something unusual. If you do not have a compatible mobile phone, our cardiac physiologists will give you a transmitting device to put beside your bed. This device sends the information recorded by your ILR implant to our team at night. 

You can record any symptoms you have using the App on your phone so we can correlate this with any recordings made by the ILR implant.

The data that's captured helps the team make an accurate diagnosis and decide on the best treatment plan. Once the doctors know what is causing your symptoms, they may decide to start treatment and replace or remove the ILR. The battery of an implantable loop recorder lasts four years but it can stay in place indefinitely, if preferred.

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Get quick access to a private implantable loop recorder

Our cardiac diagnostic network is the most comprehensive in the UK. Speak to us if you're experiencing symptoms. Your appointment can be confirmed within 24 hours, and we can arrange to have an ILR implant fitted swiftly. 

FAQs about implantable loop recorders

Fitting a loop implant recorder is a minor surgery. Having an implantable loop recorder fitted is a procedure that, in most cases, can be done on an outpatient basis. This means that you won’t need to stay in hospital overnight. The procedure is as follows:

  • You’ll be given a local anaesthetic to numb the affected area.
  • A tiny incision of around 2mm in length will be made in the skin at the bottom of the breastbone, on the left side of your chest.
  • The ILR will then be injected under your skin and the incision will be closed with butterfly stitches, or sometimes surgical stitches. The injection takes only seconds to perform.

You need to keep the wound area dry for a few days until it has healed fully. In most cases, it takes no longer than 20 or 30 minutes to fit an ILR, so you will be able to go home shortly afterwards. There is no need to fast usually before an ILR implant.

Once your ILR implant has been fitted, you’ll be monitored for an hour or so before being discharged. Your blood pressure, pulse, temperature and wound will be checked to make sure it is safe for you to go home. A member of our cardiac physiology team will connect your device to your mobile phone, explain how the remote monitoring system works and answer your questions.

They may give you a transmitting device, which you'll need to put beside your bed when you get home. This is the device that sends the information recorded by your ILR to your doctor if your phone isn’t compatible.

You’ll be informed about how to use the transmitting device before you leave hospital. You’ll be given a follow-up appointment to see an electrophysiologist in the weeks after your ILR is fitted to make sure that it's working properly.

Once you've had loop recorder surgery, recovery takes only a few days. You may find that the site of the incision is bruised for a few days after having your ILR fitted, but this will gradually disappear. 

To help with the recovery process, avoid strenuous activity for a few days, and when your cardiologist says that it’s safe. Also, avoid contact that could impact where the implant was inserted and try not to rub the implant site or the surrounding area.

You may not be able to drive if you have suffered faints or blackouts, or episodes of profound dizziness. Your cardiologist will advise on whether it’s safe for you to drive in those circumstances. Otherwise, once your wound has healed, you’ll be able to do everything that you did before you had the device fitted, including driving. 

However, wait a few days for the wound to heal before you drive or place a seatbelt over the site of your implant. We recommend waiting for at least one to two days. If you find using a seatbelt uncomfortable after this time, you may find it helpful to use some extra padding over the site of the ILR.

Having an ILR fitted is a straightforward procedure and side effects are uncommon. However, some people do experience minor problems such as bleeding or bruising at the site of the wound. In most cases, this is nothing to worry about and these symptoms will disappear within a few weeks. 

If you have had an implantable loop recorder fitted, and once the dressing has been removed, you should check the site every day to make sure that it is healing properly. If the wound looks red, angry or inflamed, appears open, is painful to touch or is oozing yellow or green fluid, then it may be infected. You should contact your GP or cardiac care team immediately and arrange an appointment.

If you experience any of the above symptoms or are worried about your ILR in any way, then contact your treatment team immediately, as you may need further treatment.

Your electrophysiologist will advise you about how long you need to have your ILR implant. It may be just for several weeks or months, but is commonly up to four years.

Your consultant will monitor the information collected by your ILR remotely and feed back information to you regularly.

Once a diagnosis has been made, then your electrophysiologist may decide to remove your ILR. The process of removing an ILR is straightforward. You will be given a local anaesthetic to numb the area, and the ILR will be removed through a small incision.

If you visit a doctor for any kind of medical test, you must tell them that you are fitted with an ILR. MRI scans are best avoided for the first six weeks after having your ILR fitted, but can still be performed if urgent. If you need an MRI after six weeks have passed, you must let the MRI unit know about your implant in advance and you must also tell your Cardiologist so that information on the device can be examined. MRI scans usually wipe data from ILR devices. 

There is no need for any special precautions before having surgery, a general anaesthetic, or any other kind of medical treatment. If you visit your dentist, please tell them you have an ILR before receiving any treatment.

For most people, it’s safe to take part in sports and go to the gym with an ILR. You can even go swimming once the wound has healed. However, you should avoid direct impact on the site of the ILR. Although this is unlikely to damage the device, you might find it uncomfortable. 

If you experienced symptoms before having your implantable loop monitor fitted that prevented you from taking part in sports or physical activities, then it’s important to speak to your cardiologist before trying anything new. 

You should keep the wound dry for 2-3 days and until it’s healed completely. Be careful when showering not to get the area wet. Once the wound has healed and the dressing has been removed, you can bathe and shower as usual. You can wash the area with water, but make sure you pat it dry instead of rubbing it.

You’ll be able to travel abroad and fly with an ILR implant fitted although ideally you should attend your follow-up appointment with us before doing so.  

You can go through airport security scanners without a problem but as the ILR is made of metal, it will cause an audible alert in metal detectors. You’ll be given a device identification card which you should carry with you when you’re travelling. This tells security staff that you have an ILR implant fitted and they may choose to use a handheld wand instead or ask you to stand in one of the new types of security scanner.

If you have a bedside monitor, we recommend you take it with you if you plan to travel for more than 2 weeks. They will work anywhere where this is a mobile phone signal, so your heart activity can still be monitored when abroad.

Your ILR implant won't be affected by electrical appliances in the home, but can be impacted by your mobile phone. Avoid placing your mobile phone or other electrical gadgets directly over the device or in your breast pocket or a bag close to your ILR.
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Leaders in electrophysiology

Our renowned cardiologists are experts in fitting and monitoring implantable loop recorders. We use the latest diagnostic technology and minimally invasive techniques to provide you with the most accurate, thorough diagnosis and treatment options. 

If you require an implantlable loop recorder, you’ll receive the highest level of care from our expert medical teams. Your electrophysiologist will talk you through the process and explain the next steps. 

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Paying for your implantable loop recorder

There are several options when it comes to paying for your test. You may be covered by private medical insurance, so speak to your insurer about what your policy includes. You can also mention HCA UK as your preferred provider, as well as your chosen consultant, if you have one. 

Alternatively, you can choose to self-pay. We'll give you a transparent price quote for your ILR implant, so you're not surprised by any unexpected costs.

If you’d like to find out more about our payment options, you can call us or use our online appointment service. We’ll be happy to talk you through your options.

How to book an appointment

Book an appointment

Want to know the cause of your symptoms? Our expert consultants can recommend an implantable loop recorder and help you understand what's happening with your heart. We're happy to book you an appointment with one of our experienced electrophysiologists. 

This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.