Embolic stroke from thrombus formation due to atrial fibrillation
Embolic stroke is the third leading killer for adults and is a major cause of disability in the U.S. There are over 700,000 strokes a year in the U.S alone. The most common cause of embolic stroke emanating from the heart is thrombus formation due to atrial fibrillation. Most clots from this type of stroke occur in the left atrial appendage (LAA) of the heart due to the lack of blood movement from this weakened structure. Recently medical devices have been introduced into the market attempting to block the LAA from allowing blood to flow. Clinically, the blockage of the LAA is an effective method for preventing thrombi from entering the heart. However current devices are a one-size-fits-all design and do not take into account the shape and size differences that uniquely define every person’s LAA. This inability to account for various LAA shapes causes blood to still flow in some patients and allows thrombi to still penetrate the rest of the body. There is a clinical need for a device that can account for different sizes and shapes of LAA for the occlusion of thrombi.
Device for blocking the Left Atrial Appendage (LAA)
Researchers at the University of Michigan have designed a solution for blocking the Left Atrial Appendage (LAA) to prevent thrombi from causing serious medical complications. The device is capable of completely filling the volume of the LAA regardless of the shape and size. It also maintains its position in the LAA through a unique anchoring design involving both microneedles and pressure. By using a minimally invasive method for inserting the device, the researchers have allowed a range of varied skilled physicians to treat patients with this medical problem. The technology is an elegant and simple solution to a problem that cannot be addressed with current devices. The ability to prevent flow of blood and thus any thrombi is the primary purpose of any LAA blocking device and it is achieved with this new design.
Applications and Advantages
- Closure of the atrial appendage (LAA)
- Improved long term effectiveness of minimizing thrombi
- Reduced anti-coagulation medication
- Simple implant technique, even minimally trained physicians can use