Journal of Arrhythmia (Apr 2016)

Combined catheter ablation for atrial fibrillation and Watchman® left atrial appendage occlusion procedures: Five-year experience

  • Karen P. Phillips, MBBS,
  • Daniel T. Walker, B. Appl. Sci.,
  • Julie A. Humphries, MBBS

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 32, no. 2
pp. 119 – 126


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Background: Patients with atrial fibrillation (AF) may benefit from undergoing concomitant interventions of left atrial catheter ablation and device occlusion of the left atrial appendage (LAA) as a two-pronged strategy for rhythm control and stroke prevention. We report on the outcome of combined procedures in a single center case series over a 5-year timeframe. Methods: Ninety-eight patients with non-valvular AF and a mean CHA2DS2-VASc score 2.6±1.0 underwent either first time, or redo pulmonary vein isolation (PVI) procedures, followed by successful implant of a Watchman® device. Results: All procedures were generally uncomplicated with a mean case time of 213±40 min. Complete LAA occlusion was achieved at initial implant in 92 (94%) patients. Satisfactory LAA occlusion was achieved in 100% of patients at 12 months, with a complete LAA occlusion rate of 86%. All patients discontinued oral anticoagulation. Persistent late peri-device leaks were more frequently associated with device angulation or shoulder protrusion, and were associated with a significantly lower achieved device compression of 12±3% vs. 15±5% (p<0.01) than complete occlusion. One ischemic stroke was recorded over a mean follow-up time of 802±439 days. Twelve months׳ freedom from detectable AF was achieved in 77% of patients. Conclusions: Combined procedures of catheter ablation for AF and Watchman® LAA implant appear to be feasible and safe, with excellent rates of LAA occlusion achieved and an observed stroke rate of 0.5% per year during mid-term follow-up. Incomplete occlusion was associated with lower achieved device compression and was more frequently associated with suboptimal device position.