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Left Atrial Appendage Occlusion/Watchman Procedure

The left atrial appendage occlusion/Watchman procedure is among the newest surgical procedures available to prevent A-fib-related stroke.

Why choose UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute for your left atrial appendage occlusion/Watchman procedure?

When you choose UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute for your left atrial appendage (LAA) occlusion/Watchman procedure, you will receive expert care from some of the region's most experienced cardiologists. Our cardiologists are at the forefront of emerging LAA occlusion techniques and are participating in research to test new devices that have the potential to improve patient outcomes.

What is the Watchman procedure?

The LAA of your heart is a pouch-like extension of the left atrium about the size of your thumb, with a narrow opening into the left atrium. If you have atrial fibrillation (A-fib), blood can pool and form clots in this appendage. If a blood clot breaks loose it may travel through your blood vessels and eventually plug a smaller vessel in your brain or heart, causing a stroke.

During the Watchman procedure, a small, fabric-covered device is permanently placed in the opening of your LAA to prevent harmful blood clots from exiting and entering your bloodstream. The device is made of materials that are well tolerated by most patients. Within six weeks, the tissues of your heart grow over the device and "close off" the LAA from the rest your left atrium, which prevents the formation of blood clots.

What happens during the Watchman procedure?

Watchman LAA closure is performed under general anesthesia in the catheterization lab. Your doctor will insert a small catheter into an incision in your femoral vein in your upper thigh that is then guided to your heart. The Watchman device is delivered to the LAA through the catheter under x-ray and ultrasound guidance. The procedure takes about an hour.

What can I expect after the Watchman procedure?

You will be taken to the recovery room for observation before you are returned to your hospital room where a nurse will monitor your vital signs. The Watchman procedure requires an overnight hospital stay.

How long does it take to recover after the Watchman procedure?

Recovery from the Watchman procedure is quick, so you should be able to resume your normal activities of daily living after about 24 hours. We recommend no heavy lifting and pulling for seven days. Your doctor will let you know when you can return to your normal activities and will schedule you for a follow-up appointment after your procedure.

You will need to continue taking Coumadin/warfarin (your doctor will prescribe a lower dosage) and daily aspirin for 45 days after your procedure. After 45 days, more than 95 percent of patients are able to stop Coumadin/warfarin and will stay on aspirin and Plavix for six months. After six months, most patients take only aspirin. It is important that you follow your doctor's instructions for taking your medication. You should not make any changes to your medications or dosages without first talking to your doctor.


Need more information?

Cumberland/Dauphin/Franklin/Lebanon/Perry Counties: 717-731-0101
Adams/York Counties: 717-637-1738 or 717-849-5576
Lancaster County: 717-299-5000

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UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute
Located at UPMC Outpatient Center
Formerly known as Lebanon Valley Advanced Care Center
1251 East Main Street
Suite 3
Annville, PA 17003

Adult Cardiology: 717-731-0101
Pediatric Cardiology: 717-761-0200

UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute
360 Alexander Spring Road
Carlisle, PA 17013

Adult Cardiology: 717-243-6557
Pediatric Cardiology: 717-761-0200
Fax: 717-243-0102

UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute
1000 North Front Street
Wormleysburg, PA 17043

Adult Cardiology: 717-731-0101
Pediatric Cardiology: 717-761-0200
Fax: 717-731-8359 

UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute
900 Century Drive
Suite 100
Mechanicsburg, PA 17055

Phone: 717-591-3660 or 800-248-0257
Fax: 717-591-3661

UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute
Located at Medical Professional Center of Newport
300 Bretz Court
Newport, PA 17074

Phone: 717-567-7246 or 800-248-0257
Fax: 717-567-2621 

UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute
2808 Old Post Road
Harrisburg, PA 17110

Adult Cardiology: 717-920-4400
Pediatric Cardiology: 717-761-0200
Fax: 717-920-4401

UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute
12 Saint Paul Drive
Suite 205
Chambersburg, PA 17201

Adult Cardiology: 717-217-6881
Pediatric Cardiology: 717-761-0200
Fax: 717-217-6889 

UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute
Located at UPMC Outpatient Center
2201 Brunswick Drive
Hanover, PA 17331

Phone: 717-637-1738
Fax: 717-646-7430 

UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute
16324 Mount Airy Road
Lower Level
Shrewsbury, PA 17361

Phone: 717-849-5576
Fax: 717-718-9972

UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute
1600 6th Avenue
Suite 105
York, PA 17403

Phone: 717-849-5576
Fax: 717-718-9972 

UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute
1555 Highlands Drive
Suite 100
Lititz, PA 17543

Phone: 717-299-5000
Fax: 717-431-1205 

UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute (formerly Cardiac Consultants)
1697 Crown Avenue
Suite 100
Lancaster, PA 17601

Phone: 717-299-5000
Fax: 717-431-1205

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