What should I expect during an implantable loop recorder (ILR) insertion?

Mohamed Djelmami Hani, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)

When an implantable loop recorder (ILR) is inserted:

  • Your chest area will be shaved and cleansed.
  • A special cleansing solution will be applied to prevent infection.
  • A sterile drape will be placed over your chest.
  • Local anesthetic will be used to numb the area.
  • Sedation and pain medication will be given through your intravenous (IV) catheter to make you comfortable.
  • A small incision is usually made on the left side of the chest, where the device will sense the heart rhythm.
  • The device is placed under the skin.
  • The device will be sutured in place.
  • A dressing will be placed over the incision site. You will be told how to care for the incision at the time of discharge.
  • The procedure will take approximately 45 minutes.

An implantable loop recorder is inserted by an electrophysiologist, a physician who specializes in the heart’s electrical system. The procedure is performed in the hospital under local anesthesia. The device, which is about the size of a flattened AA battery, is implanted through an incision in the chest, which is closed with stitches after implantation of the device. You can typically return home and to normal activity the same day.

Your physician will be able to view data from the recorder on a specialized computer. This data will give your physician information about the electrical activity of your heart, which governs your heartbeat. After a diagnosis has been made, or at the end of the device’s battery life, the recorder may be removed in a procedure very similar to the one used for insertion.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.