LAAC devices offer clot control alternative to warfarin
People with non-valvular atrial fibrillation (abnormal heart rhythm but with no significant valvular problems) are susceptible to left atrial appendage (LAA) thrombus (clotting). In fact 90 percent of clots that cause stroke come from the left atrial appendage, a tiny ear-shaped formation protruding from the left atrium of the heart. Although the condition is sometimes treated with warfarin, a common blood-thinning medication, a significant number of people go untreated because in many cases the drug produces intolerable and life-limiting side effects.
Types of LAAC devices and treatment approaches
Our team at Lankenau heart Institute has expertise in LAAC surgical approaches, including:
The WATCHMAN device offers some patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation an alternative to anticoagulants like warfarin. The device is inserted transfemorally (through the leg) and guided up to the left atrial appendage. Once in place it acts like a “net,” closing off the left atrial appendage and preventing blood clots from migrating from the appendage. By closing off the LAA, the risk of stroke may be reduced and over time patients may be able to stop taking warfarin.
AtriClip and other surgical procedures
Similar to the WATCHMAN device, AtriClip is able to stop blood from flowing into the left atrial appendage. Like the name suggests, a rectangular-shaped “clip” is clamped onto the appendage, shutting off the blood supply and minimizing blood clot formation. The AtriClip can be implanted through an open surgical procedure or using a minimally invasive “keyhole” approach through the ribs. Other surgical techniques include closing up the left atrial appendage with a special stapler or by sewing it shut.
AMPLATZER™ septal occluder (cardiac plug)
Named after the physician who invented it, this device is made of flexible mesh that conforms to the shape of the left atrial appendage opening. An additional disc-shaped layer of mesh “sandwiches” the space between the plug and the atria (left heart chamber).
LAAC devices are comparable to warfarin in reducing risk of stroke and cardiovascular death.
Bryn Mawr Hospital was the first hospital in the state to implant the WATCHMAN™ LAAC device.
The Lankenau Heart Institute team is the region’s leader in performing LAAC device implantations, helping improve the lives of people with atrial fibrillation who are not candidates for warfarin therapy.