EMERGING North Melbourne forward Nick Larkey will have post-season surgery to help prevent the heart palpitations that caused him to leave the field last week.
AFL.com.au understands doctors diagnosed Larkey with SVT (Supraventricular tachycardia), a relatively common condition for AFL footballers.
The 21-year-old, who will play against Brisbane on Saturday night, also sat out the final term of his club's VFL clash with Essendon in April, and Kangaroos medical staff are closely monitoring him.
Larkey will undergo a cardiac ablation at season's end, a minor procedure that scars, or destroys, tissue that triggers an abnormal heart rhythm.
The recovery period will not stop him from being ready for the start of pre-season training.
Carlton ruckman Matthew Kreuzer suffered from the same condition in a round 17 match last year, had an operation a month afterwards and didn't play again for the season.
Former North Melbourne footballer Leigh Adams is another player who underwent the ablation surgery after an SVT episode during a game.
The Kangaroos' caretaker coach Rhyce Shaw told reporters after last week's game against the Bombers that Larkey's problem was not serious.
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"Nick's had heart palpitations and he's been managing that for a long time. Our doctors are all over that and they've put the processes in place," Shaw said.
"He just had a little turn tonight and obviously we'll assess him during the week, but I just saw him before and he seems fine.
"He's had it a couple of times (this season) and it's not a massive thing." - Rhyce Shaw
Heart problems have become a major talking point in the AFL in recent times, with St Kilda defender Dylan Roberton's career on hold and former Magpie Kayle Kirby retiring last year.
Both Roberton and Kirby collapsed during matches in 2018.
Kirby's ex-Collingwood teammate Jaidyn Stephenson takes daily medication to manage his own heart condition.
Larkey is enjoying a breakout campaign in his third AFL season, kicking 17 goals in 11 matches and establishing himself as a key cog in North's forward line alongside Ben Brown.
The Oakleigh Chargers product, a bargain selection at No.73 in the 2016 NAB AFL Draft, also won the 'Frosty' Miller Medal last year as the VFL's leading goalkicker.
Larkey remains unsigned for next season and is arguably North's No.1 contract priority among those without a deal, including unrestricted free agent Todd Goldstein.