We last reported on the Watchman left atrial appendage device back in 2009. Since then, Minnesota based AtriTech has been acquired by Boston Scientific, and there is new data about its use as an alternative to warfarin.
To review, the Watchman is a device that is placed in the left atrium to exclude the left atrial appendage, where a thrombus is likely to form in a patient with atrial fibrillation, thus reducing the potential for a stroke. The device is implanted in the cath lab with conscious sedation (see animation).
Previous studies have confirmed the non-inferiority of this device to warfrain, and the latest data shows its utility in patients who have contraindications to warfarin. Twenty-four of these patients were implanted with the Watchman device and received aspirin and Plavix, and no cerebrovascular events or device dislodgements were noted (follow-up time averaged 4.2 months). There was one case of a device-related thrombus that resolved with heparin therapy. Although larger studies and more follow-up time is needed, this device seems to be an option for people who are unable to take warfarin. The Watchman remains in investigational status in the United States at this time.
Product page: WATCHMAN LAA Closure Device