Left atrial appendage exclusion—Where do we stand?

Timothy Sakellaridis, Mihalis Argiriou, Christos Charitos, Kosmas Tsakiridis, Paul Zarogoulidis, Nikolaos Katsikogiannis, Ioanna Kougioumtzi, Nikolaos Machairiotis, Theodora Tsiouda, Stamatis Arikas, Andreas Mpakas, Thomas Beslevis, Alexander Koletas, Konstantinos Zarogoulidis

Abstract

Atrial fibrillation (AF) is consider to be the most common cardiac arrhythmia with an increasingly prevalence. It is postulated that the source of thromboembolism in 90% of patients with non-valvular AF arises from the left atrial appendage (LAA). Stroke is the most feared and life threatening consequence of thromboembolism. Oral anticoagulation (OAC) with vitamin-K-antagonists is the standard medical therapy for stroke prevention in patients with AF. Unfortunately, chronic therapy with vitamin-K-antagonists is contraindicated in 14% to 44% of patients with AF who are at risk for stroke, and its benefits are limited by underutilization, narrow therapeutic window and increased risk for bleeding, making it often undesired.
Therefore, mechanical LAA exclusion is a means of preventing thrombus formation in the appendage and subsequent thromboembolic events in these patients. The LAA can be excluded from the systemic circulation via surgical, percutaneous, or thoracoscopic approaches. Several studies of percutaneous transcatheter delivery of dedicated LAA exclusion devices, such as the percutaneous left atrial appendage transcatheter occlusion (PLAATO) device, Watchman device and the Amplatzer cardiac plug, have shown encouraging results as an alternative to vitamin-K-antagonists therapy for selected patients, good feasibility and efficacy, with a high rate of successful implantation.
We discuss the current evidence for LAA exclusion in patients and review their results.