LAAO is done by a doctor called an electrophysiologist. An electrophysiologist is a heart doctor (cardiologist) that treats abnormal heart rhythms. To do LAAO, the doctor puts a catheter (long, thin wire) into a blood vessel and passes it into the heart.
Most of the time, this procedure is done through a vein on the right side of the groin (called the femoral vein). In rare cases the procedure is done through veins on both sides of the groin. The doctor also injects a dye (contrast media) to help guide the device and make sure it fits well in the left atrial appendage (LAA).
When the catheter reaches the heart, it will go into the right atrium. The catheter will be passed from the right atrium to the left atrium by making a small hole in the wall (called the septum) between these 2 upper chambers of the heart.
The LAAO device is passed through the catheter into the LAA.
The electrophysiologist makes sure that the device is in the right place within the LAA. They open the device that is tightly folded in the catheter, much like opening up a folded umbrella.
When the procedure is done, the catheter is removed and only the LAAO device stays in the body. LAAO takes 2 to 4 hours.
The main risks of LAAO include:
Only 1 or 2 out of 100 people having an LAAO will have a complication.
Don’t eat or drink anything after midnight on the day before your procedure. Be at the hospital on time and go to the department where you’re having your procedure.
At the department you will:
When the procedure is ready to begin, you will go to the electrophysiology (EP) Lab where you will:
Go to an emergency department if you:
Don’t drive yourself if you don’t feel well. Have someone drive you or call 911.
If you go to the emergency department or see a doctor for any issues related to your LAAO procedure, please call the clinic the same day or the next day.
Current as of: January 25, 2022
Author: Cardiovascular Health and Stroke SCN, Alberta Health Services
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