Tiny monitoring device provides big benefits

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A tiny device no bigger than an adult’s index finger is helping physicians at St George Private Hospital monitor patients with potentially life-threatening conditions.

Doctors at the Ramsay Health Care facility are using injectable loop recorders to observe their patients’ heart rates to provide around-the-clock care.

The monitoring technology records data which is then transmitted back to the patient’s doctor.

St George Private Hospital electrophysiologist Dr Rahn Ilsar discusses the benefits of this “set and forget” continuous cardiac monitoring technology.

What is an injectable loop recorder?

“Injectable loop recorders are used in the diagnosis of patients suffering from syncope. Syncope (feeling faint, blacking out, unsteadiness, vision problems and headaches) affects six per cent of people over the age of 75.

“This device, roughly half the size of an adult’s index finger, monitors the heart’s rhythm and then wirelessly transmits the data back to the treating physician.

“Essentially this means patients have 24-hour ‘eyes and ears’ on their heart, transmitting any issues or episodes to their doctor once a day via Wi-Fi connection.”

What are the patient benefits?

“Instead of the patient wearing a Holter monitor which must come off in the shower or pool and only provides monitoring for shorter periods of time (a few days or weeks), this device provides 24-hour-surveillance for three years or until a diagnosis is made.

“In the past, these patients could typically visit their cardiologist every three to six months. This way, the patient’s diagnosis can be found very rapidly, regardless of where they are or what they are doing.”

Are there any side effects; how easy is it to use; how big is the scar and does it have other applications?

“There are no known serious side effects. The scar is about eight millimetres and the procedure is done under local anaesthetic in day surgery. This device is automatic so there is excellent patient compliance. The implantable device is also MRI compatible which is good news for people who may need a hip MRI down the track.”

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