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The left atrial appendage (LAA) is a small sac or pouch in the left atrium. The atrium is an upper chamber of the heart.
When you have atrial fibrillation (say "AY-tree-uhl fih-bruh-LAY-shun"), a type of irregular heartbeat, the heart's upper chambers quiver, or fibrillate. This can lead to blood clots in the left atrium. Most of these clots form in the LAA, where the blood pools. If a clot moves out of the heart and travels to the brain, it may cause a stroke.
A left atrial appendage closure is a procedure to close off the LAA. The procedure can help prevent a blood clot from moving out of the LAA. But it can't prevent a clot from forming in other areas of the left atrium.
Closing the LAA won't affect how your heart works. Your heart will still pump blood normally.
You may be asleep for the procedure, or you may get a sedative to help you relax. Your doctor makes a small cut in your groin. A thin flexible tube (catheter) with tools inside it is put inside your blood vessel and carefully guided to your heart. Your doctor moves the tip of the catheter to the LAA and places a small device inside it. The device expands and closes off the opening. It stays inside your heart. The catheter is then removed. In time, your heart will heal around the device. A layer of heart tissue will help seal off the LAA.
You may stay in the hospital for at least 1 night.
Procedures can be stressful. This information will help you understand what you can expect. And it will help you safely prepare for your procedure.
Current as of: May 10, 2021
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Caroline S. Rhoads MD - Internal Medicine & John M. Miller MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology
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