Recently, the Cardiac Catheterization Lab team at Northern Arizona Healthcare’s Flagstaff Medical Center completed its first left atrial appendage closure using the WATCHMAN™ device. Left atrial appendage closure is a treatment strategy to reduce the risk stroke in patients with atrial fibrillation while eliminating the need for long term use of blood thinners (anticoagulation). The procedure was done by Dr. Kent Winkler.
The WATCHMAN™ device is a one-time implant typically performed under general anesthesia with transesophageal echo guidance, or TEE. Similar to a stent procedure, the device is guided into the heart through a flexible tube, or catheter, inserted through the femoral vein in the upper leg. The implant is introduced into the right atrium and is then passed into the left atrium through the atrial septum. Once the position is confirmed, the implant is released and is left permanently fixed in the heart. The implant does not require open heart surgery and does not need to be replaced. Recovery typically takes 24 hours.