Loop Recorder for Unexplained Arrhythmia and Syncope Diagnosis
A loop recorder is a small device that can be attached externally or implanted just under the skin. External recorders provide about 24 hours of monitoring and are often referred to as Holter monitors. Mobile telemetry monitors use cellular networks to relay information to a technician at a 24/7 receiving center for up to 3 weeks. An implantable loop recorder is injected under the skin and can last for three years. The goal of the loop recorder is to monitor and record unexplained abnormal heart rhythms. Most commonly, loop recorders will be employed to detect and record unexplained or occasional arrhythmia and diagnose the cause of syncope (fainting). This may help correlate symptoms to arrhythmia and presence of atrial fibrillation.
A cardiac electrophysiologist will download the information recorded by the device, allowing them to see the data immediately before, during and after the cardiac event. Loop recorders provide the highest level of diagnostic flexibility.
Benefits Of A Loop Recorder
Arrhythmia and syncope do not necessarily happen every minute of every day. Therefore EKGs may not detect the full scope of the problem (as they only provide a snapshot of the heart’s rhythm during a limited period of time). The loop recorder, however, constantly monitors the heart and is triggered by abnormal cardiac events. As the name suggests, the loop recorder overwrites normal heart events to allow for a longer recording period.
With the assistance of the loop recorder data, your physician will be able to recommend a proper course of treatment with a relatively high degree of confidence. This data is as useful in diagnosing a problem as it is ruling out another, making diagnoses much more accurate. If an arrhythmia is the root cause of syncope, it will be evident on the loop recorder. If the recorder confirms that an arrhythmia is not to blame, other tests can be performed.
Risks Of A Loop Recorder
External loop recorders come with very few, if any, risks, as they are simply attached to the body and not implanted. Implanted recorders require a small incision made during a minor surgical procedure. The most common complications associated with this procedure, although still rare, are infection and the body’s reaction, in some way, to the loop recorder material.