Percutaneous Transcatheter Left Atrial Appendage Exclusion in Atrial Fibrillation.
Stroke is one of the leading causes of mortality, morbidity and serious disability in the developed world. Atrial fibrillation (AF), one of the most common cardiac arrhythmias, is a well-known predisposing factor for stroke, raising the risk significantly. Oral anticoagulation with warfarin is currently the most effective therapy for stroke risk reduction; however, this therapy increases the risk of bleeding and is often underutilized, contraindicated, or when administered, often subtherapeutic. It has been documented that the left atrial appendage (LAA) is the main source of leftatrial thrombus, especially in non-rheumatic AF. Therefore, LAA exclusion may reduce the risk of stroke in AF, and retrospective surgical data have demonstrated a reduced risk of embolic events if surgical LAA exclusion was also performed during mitral valve replacement. Recently, several less invasive percutaneous transcatheter techniques of LAA exclusion – the PLAATO device, the Watchman device, and the Amplatzer Septal Occluder – have been employed with initially encouraging results. There is currently an ongoing randomized trial comparing percutaneous LAA exclusion to long-term oral anticoagulation therapy. Until such data are available, however, oral anticoagulation should remain the standard of care for stroke prevention in patients with AF.