Left Atrial Appendage Closure (LAAC) Device

LAAC devices offer blood clot control as alternative to blood thinners

Atrial fibrillation, or AFib, affects your heart's ability to pump blood normally. This can cause blood to pool in an area of the heart called the left atrial appendage, or LAA. There, blood cells can stick together and form a clot. When a blood clot escapes from the LAA and travels to another part of the body, it can cut off the blood supply to the brain, causing a stroke.1,2

In people with AFib not caused by a heart valve problem, more than 90% of stroke-causing clots that come from the heart are formed in the LAA.1 That's why closing off this part of the heart is an effective way to reduce stroke risk.

Types of LAAC devices and treatment approaches

Lankenau Heart Institute offers the expertise and experience in LAAC minimally invasive approaches, including:

  • WATCHMAN FLX™ – Implanted via a minimally invasive procedure, the WATCHMAN FLX device is designed to permanently close off the LAA, while allowing many patients to discontinue blood thinners and avoid the bleeding and lifestyle challenges associated with them.
  • 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.

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.

1. Price MJ, Reddy VY, Valderrábano M, et al. Bleeding outcomes after left atrial appendage closure compared with long-term warfarin. JACC Cardiovasc Interv. 2015;8(15):1925-1932.
2. Blackshear JL, Odell JA. Appendage obliteration to reduce stroke in cardiac surgical patients with atrial fibrillation. Ann Thorac Surg. 1996;61:755-759.

Bryn Mawr Hospital was the first hospital in the state to implant the WATCHMAN™ LAAC device.


Heart and Vascular Care

The cardiologists and cardiovascular surgeons at Main Line Health work together to improve the detection and prevention of heart disease with the latest treatment options.