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Left atrial appendage occlusion aims to prevent blood clot formation in patients suffering from atrial fibrillation.

If you are at risk of a stroke related to atrial fibrillation your consultant may recommend left atrial appendage occlusion.

What happens during left atrial appendage occlusion (LAAO)?

Left atrial appendage occlusion is usually performed under general anaesthetic and takes about 1-2 hours. In some cases local anaesthetic and sedation may be used.

Your consultant will insert of a very thin, flexible tube called a guide sheath in a large vein in your groin. Using imaging they will thread this tube through your right atrium, then through a hole in your left atrium. Once the sheath is in position at the entrance to your left atrial, your surgeon will pass an occlusion device inside and release it. The device will block any blood clots from entering into your left atrium. The sheath will be removed and the wound will be covered with a dressing.

You may need to stay in hospital overnight. You may need to take antibiotics to prevent infection. Please let us know if you are in any pain.

Going home after left atrial appendage occlusion

You will not be able to drive so be sure and arrange for someone to drive you home on your day of discharge.

Continue to take any blood thinning medication as directed. Follow your consultant’s advice about returning to normal activities. You should avoid any strenuous activities for about 4 weeks.

It is important that you attend any follow-up appointments so that we can monitor the performance of your occlusion device.

Most people make a good recovery and return to normal activities following left atrial appendage occlusion. As with any surgical procedure there could be complications such as:

  • Pain
  • Bleeding
  • Bruising
  • Infection
  • Reaction the anaesthetic

Specific complications of left atrial appendage occlusion may include:

  • Irregular heart rhythm
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Device failure
  • Blood clots
  • Stroke or mini stroke (TIA)
  • Be sure and discuss any concerns you have with your consultant.

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