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Diagnostic assessment of recurrent unexplained syncope with a new subcutaneously implantable loop recorder

K. Seidl, M. Rameken, S. Breunung, J. Senges, W. Jung, D. Andresen, A. Van Toor, A. D. Krahn, G. J. Klein
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1053/eupc.2000.0108 256-262 First published online: 1 January 2000


Aim Patients with recurrent syncope undiagnosed after extensive non-invasive and invasive testing pose a diagnostic and therapeutic dilemma. Holter monitoring is non-diagnostic in 90% of cases. Recent developments in loop recorder technology permit long-term ECG monitoring in patients with recurrent unexplained syncope. The aim of this study was to report the worldwide experience with a new subcutaneously implantable loop recorder, implanted in 133 patients with unexplained syncope and negative laboratory investigations.

Methods and Results The implantable loop recorder monitors continuously a single lead electrogram using two sensing electrodes on the device shell. The device was implanted in 133 patients, 67 male and 66 female with recurrent syncope. During a mean follow-up of 10·8±4·3 months after device implantation, 83 patients (62%) experienced syncope or pre-syncope. In the remaining 50 patients no diagnosis could be made because either no events occurred, the patients were lost to follow-up, had adverse events, or died prior to diagnosis. In 72 of the 83 patients with syncope during follow-up (87%), loop recording definitively determined whether an arrhythmia was the cause of symptoms or not. Diagnosis included bradycardia in 21 patients, pacemaker dysfunction in one patient, and tachycardia in 10 patients. One patient experienced multiple rhythm disturbances. Syncope was non-arrhythmic in 40 patients. The remaining 11 patients failed to press the activator. Therapy was instituted in all patients, in whom an arrhythmic cause was found. Severe anticipated device related complications occurred in three patients.

Conclusion An implantable loop recorder is useful for establishing a diagnosis when symptoms are recurrent but too infrequent for conventional monitoring techniques.

  • Syncope
  • implantable device
  • loop recorder