Left Atrial Appendage Thrombus

Left atrial appendage susceptible to clot formation in people with AFib

The left atrial appendage (LAA) is a tiny, ear-shaped formation connected to the left atrium of the heart. While it does not contribute significantly to the output of the heart, it does act as a reservoir and plays a part in moderating blood flow. Due to its odd shape, it is also an area susceptible to blood clot formation (thrombus), particularly in people who have conditions such as atrial fibrillation or mitral valve disease.

Left atrial appendage thrombus occurs when blood coagulates in this tiny pocket, putting a person at risk for cerebral stroke or peripheral embolism.

Diagnosis and treatment of LAA thrombus

LAA thrombus is most commonly diagnosed with a transesophageal echocardiogram. Cardiac MRI and Doppler imaging are less invasive diagnostic approaches currently being explored.

Medication is the primary treatment for LAA thrombus, the goal being to minimize or eliminate clot formation. In rare instances, surgical excision or ligation may be considered, but due to the delicate function of the left atrial appendage, it is usually preferable to leave it intact.

Left Atrial Appendage Closure (LAAC) Device

Left atrial appendage closure (LAAC) devices such as Watchman and LARIAT offer some patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation an attractive alternative to anticoagulants like warfarin.