Role for the left atrial appendage occlusion device in managing thromboembolic risk in atrial fibrillation

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Only 50% of patients who would benefit from warfarin therapy for atrial fibrillation (AF) receive treatment because of clinical concerns regarding chronic anti-coagulation. Percutaneous strategies to treat AF, including pulmonary vein isolation with a curative intent or atrioventricular nodal ablation and implantation of a permanent pacemaker for palliative rate control, have not eliminated the need to manage thromboembolic risk. With the development of a percutaneous left atrial appendage (LAA) occlusion device (the WATCHMAN percutaneous left atrial appendage occluder – Atritech Inc., Plymouth, MN, USA) for thromboembolic protection in non-valvular AF a significant therapeutic option for select patients may be available. We present the first case performed in Australia (24 November 2009) and explore this new methodology.

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