Our hospital is starting to do more left atrial occlusion devices for people who have afib and aren’t able to tolerate blood thinners. Currently, two types are offered by our cardiologists: Watchman procedure (endocardial) vs Lariat procedure (epicardial).
It look and acts similar to a lariat or lasso. An external guide wire with a magnet at its tip is introduced outside the heart towards the left atrial appendage (LAA). Another wire with a magnet at its tip is introduced from a groin vein and it traverses the interatrial septum to sit at the most distal point inside the LAA. The magnets “connect” and the lariat is introduced along the external guide wire and essentially lassos the LAA.
A large occlusion device is inserted via a groin vein and traverses the interatrial septum into the proximal (base or largest opening) left atrial appendage. The device gets deployed and successfully occludes the LAA.
Is one better than the other?
Endocardial (Watchman) vs epicardial (Lariat) left atrial appendage exclusion devices: Understanding the differences in the location and type of leaks and their clinical implications. Pillarisetti J, et al. Heart Rhythm. 2015.
CONCLUSION: The Lariat device is associated with a lower rate of leaks at 1 year as compared with the Watchman device, with no difference in rates of cerebrovascular accident. There was no correlation between the presence of residual leak and the occurrence of cerebrovascular accident.
For these cases, we typically have a good flowing peripheral IV and intubate these patients for general anesthesia. There’s a fair amount of TEE required for placement and verification of correct positioning of the device. Both procedures require transseptal access. Watch for hypotension as there is a risk for pericardial effusion.