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Left Atrial Appendage Occlusion

Left Atrial Appendage Occlusion (LAAO) is a procedure that Queen’s Heart may recommend for patients with atrial fibrillation (AF) who are at high risk for stroke, but are unable to take blood thinners. Because approximately 90% of blood clots in AF form in the left atrial appendage, occluding (or blocking) it may reduce stroke risk. 

We currently utilize the WATCHMAN™, an FDA approved device designed for LAAO. It is inserted through a vein in the upper leg using a catheter, and guided up into the heart. The device is threaded through the catheter, and plugs the left atrial appendage. Over time, tissue grows over the device and occludes (or blocks) that area.

 

See the animation below for a brief overview of the procedure.

 


What to Expect

Before having the device implanted, you will undergo a Transesophageal Echocardiogram (TEE) which will help to assess the heart’s anatomy and to ensure a clot is not present.

You will be under general anesthesia during the procedure. A cardiologist will implant the device while under the guidance of a Transesophageal Echocardiogram and fluoroscopy.

You will need to stay in the hospital overnight.

Patients will need to take a blood thinner for at least 45 days following the procedure.

Repeat Transesophageal Echocardiograms are performed at 45 days and one year after the procedure.


Who is a Candidate for LAAO?

You are a good candidate for LAAO if you have AF with a high risk for stroke and:

  • Are unable to tolerate long-term use of blood thinners
  • Are at an increased risk of bleeding
  • Have frequent falls

To learn more about LAAO and AF treatments, call Queen’s Heart at 808-691-8900.