The left atrial appendage (LAA) is a small pouch in the left atrium. Patients with atrial fibrillation (abnormal heart rhythm) have a high risk of blood clots forming in the LAA. These clots can dislodge from the LAA and block blood flow to crucial parts of the body, including the brain (stroke). Oral anticoagulation medications may be used to reduce the risk of clots, but these medications are not safe or appropriate in some patients. In such cases, LAA occlusion is a viable treatment option.
In LAA occlusion, a catheter (thin, flexible tube) is used to deliver an closure device to the left atrium. There, the device is inserted into the LAA and expanded like an umbrella to seal off the entrance to the pouch.