About 20 percent of all stroke patients have atrial fibrillation, the most common abnormal heart rhythm. In fact, more than 2 million people in the United States have atrial fibrillation, which can result in fainting, chest pains or more seriously, congestive heart failure or stroke. In these patients, the left atrial appendage, a thumb-sized appendage attached to the left atrium of the heart, stops regularly contracting and blood within it can stagnate and clot. The LAA is thought to be one, if not the major source of blood clots that cause stroke in patients with atrial fibrillation.
“AFib patients have limited options for long-term protection against stroke,” said cardiologist, Dr. Stuart Jacobson. “This is particularly true for patients who may not be able to tolerate or who have had complications taking the available blood-thinning drugs. We are fortunate to have the expertise to perform nonsurgical procedures and protect our patients here at Methodist West Houston.”
Using a device known as the LARIAT suture delivery device, cardiologist/electrophysiologist Dr. Miguel Valderrabano, M.D. performed the procedure on a 65-year-old Katy resident in Methodist West Houston’s hybrid operating room, a combination imaging and surgical suit that seamlessly transforms to an “open surgical approach” if needed. Through a needle-puncture in the skin, he accessed the patient’s LAA and successfully tied off the appendage.
“Nonsurgical options generally mean less discomfort, shorter recoveries and fewer complications, important considerations for AFib patients,” said Valderrabano. “It’s very good for the patient, especially if the alternative is taking a blood thinner for the remainder of one’s life. This patient was considered high risk for stroke. He had developed life-threatening bleeding complications due to blood thinners, so the LARIAT procedure was the best way to eliminate one possible cause of stroke and protect him.”
The patient recovered well and went home two days after surgery.
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