The left atrial appendage (LAA) is a small, ear-shaped sac in the muscle wall of the left atrium (top left chamber of the heart). When a patient has atrial fibrillation, the abnormal and chaotic atrial rhythm do not give the atria time to effectively squeeze blood, and instead they vibrate. Because the LAA is a small pouch, blood can collect there and can form clots in the LAA. If a blood clot forms there it can later travel its way to the brain causing a stroke or to the periphery causing a sudden occlusion in one of the arteries supplying either the upper or lower extremities leading to ischemia and threatening the limb.
Unfortunately some patients cannot take anticoagulants, they cannot tolerate these medications, or are at increased risk of life threatening bleeding. In this situation, a LAA closure device may be considered.
The WATCHMAN device is implanted percutaneously (through the skin) in the electrophysiology lab. The implant procedure does not require surgery. A catheter sheath is inserted into a vein near the groin and guided to the LAA. The device is placed in the opening of the LAA. This seals off the LAA and keeps it from releasing clots.
At CCC our Electrophysiologists are specialized in such procedures and are happy to help patients who may benefit from this type of device.
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