Left atrial appendage occlusion, known as LAAO or LAA closure, is a minimally invasive procedure used to reduce the risk of a stroke in patients who have atrial fibrillation (AF).
The erratic heartbeat in patients with AF can lead to blood clots collecting in the heart, and these can travel to the brain leading to a stroke to occur. When blood collects in the heart it tends to 'pool' in the left atrial appendage, a small sack found at the top of the heart's upper left chamber (left atria).
Your consultant will initially treat the likelihood of blood collecting and clotting with blood-thinning medication (anticoagulants) but if this does not alleviate the risk of a stroke, an LAAO will likely be required.
LAAO is normally carried out under local anesthetic. A special catheter is fed to the heart via a vein in the groin, which places a device in the heart that seals off the left atrial appendage, preventing blood reaching the area where it is most likely to 'pool' and form clots.
Recovery from the procedure varies from 4-6 hours, and normally patients are able to return home the same day or after an overnight stay.