The prevention of strokes has traditionally been plagued by the tedious task of continuously adjusting anti-coagulation medicines. However, according to the Associated Press, cardiologists at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak Michigan are now working with the Watchman® device that promises to mechanically prevent the formation of dangerous emboli, by occluding left atrial appendage, a place where most thrombi form in patients with atrial fibrillation. According to AP, this investigational device by Plymouth, Minnesota based Atritech, Inc. has allowed 97% of patients implanted with Watchman® to be taken off of coumadin, an anti-coagulation drug.
Here’s what the company says about its system:
The left atrial appendage (LAA) has been identified as a major source of thrombi in patients with atrial fibrillation. Ligation of the LAA surgically has been done for many years, while a very invasive technique, limited data appears to demonstrate a benefit in patients at risk of atrial fibrillation related strokes. Recently the development of a transcatheter approach to isolate the LAA has been developed.
The Watchman® left atrial appendage system is made of nitinol (a self expanding metal) with the atrial facing surface covered with a thin permeable polyester material. The device is constrained within a catheter until delivery in the LAA and is available in multiple sizes to accommodate the unique anatomy of each patient.