What is Percutaneous Left Atrial Appendage Closure?

Percutaneous left atrial appendage closure (LAAC) is a device implantation procedure that reduces the risk of stroke for patients who have atrial fibrillation, a condition in which the heart beats out of rhythm. Atrial fibrillation causes blood to collect in the left atrial appendage, a small sac located in the top left chamber of the heart. The blood that collects in this appendage can form clots and cause stroke when pumped out of the heart.

To implant the device, a long, flexible tube, called a catheter, is inserted into a large vein in the groin and advanced to the heart. Once the tube reaches the left side of the heart, X-ray is used to guide a thinner catheter into the left atrial appendage. The tiny device is then passed through the tube and into the appendage. When the doctor has made sure it is in the right place, she takes the catheter out, and the procedure is completed.

This minimally invasive procedure usually requires a hospital stay of at least one day. Normal activities may be resumed within a few days. About 45 days following implantation, a test will be done to determine whether the device has closed the left atrial appendage. Check-ups have to be performed every year to make sure the device is in place.