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The left atrial appendage (LAA) is a small sac located in the muscle wall of the left atrium, which is located in the top left chamber of the heart. Normally, when the heart contracts with each heartbeat, the blood in the left atrium and the LAA is squeezed out of the left atrium and into the left ventricle, which is located in the bottom left chamber of the heart.
The WATCHMAN device has been approved by the FDA:
To reduce the risk of thromboembolism from the LAA in patients with nonvalvular atrial fibrillation who are at increased risk of stroke or systemic embolism but are not candidate from long term anticoagulation as well as who have an appropriate reason to want treatment with non – medication alternative to warfarin.
The WATCHMAN Device is a parachute-shaped, self-expanding device that closes the LAA. It was tested in several studies that showed the device was a good alternative treatment for patients who cannot tolerate treatment with medication.
The WATCHMAN device is implanted percutaneously (through the skin) in the electrophysiology (EP) lab. The implant procedure does not require surgery; however, general anesthesia may be used during the procedure. A catheter sheath is inserted into a vein near the groin and guided across the septum, which is a muscular wall that divides the right and left sides of the heart to the opening of the LAA. The device is placed in the opening of the LAA. This seals off the LAA and keeps it from releasing clots.