AF Information & Advice For Patients

Left Atrial Appendage Occlusion

What is the left atrial appendage occlusion (LAAO) procedure?

The LAAO device, in trials and in practice, has proven to be an effective option in reducing the risk of AF-related stroke in AF patients for whom an oral anticoagulant such as warfarin, dabigatran or rivaroxaban, is unsafe or contraindicated.


Atrial fibrillation (AF) can present in varying forms and with a range of symptoms. However, common to all of these is the increased risk to an individual of an AF-related stroke. AF-related strokes are far more likely to be disabling and fatal than non-AF strokes. 

AF Association, in partnership with NHS Improvement, is supporting an extensive educational programme seeking to increase the use of appropriate therapies for all AF patients in order to significantly reduce the risk of AF-related strokes.

  • A left atrial appendage device protects, restores and gives hope for a future.
  • LAA devices can reduce the risk of an AF-related stroke by up to 70%.
  • It is needed because there is NO OTHER alternative available for this group of high risk AF patients.

 ➚ Click here to see our LAAO factsheet

How the procedure works

The procedure takes around 1-2 hours and the patient is usually given general anaesthetic. Depending on the type of imaging system used for visualising the heart, the procedure could be done under sedation.

A guide sheath (flexible tube) is inserted into a large vein in the groin and threaded up to the right atrium of the heart. It is then passed through a hole into the left atrium. In some patients this hole exists naturally; if not the doctor will make a small needle-hole and stretch it to allow the sheath through. The doctor then positions the guide sheath in the mouth of the left atrial appendage, and uses it to pass the occlusion device inside.When the doctor is satisfied with the position of the occlusion device, it is released, plugging the appendage, and the sheath is then removed

This video illustrates the procedure:


Expert LAAO centres which may be commissioned to provide LAAO once NHS England Commissioning Policy for the procedure finalised:

 ➚ Click here to find out more about Commissioning LAAO in England 

Northern areas:
• The Newcastle upon Tyne Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
• South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
• Liverpool Heart & Chest Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
• Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust

Southern areas:
Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust
Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust

Midlands areas:
University Hospital of North Midlands NHS Trust
University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust

• Barts Health NHS Trust
• University College of London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
• Kings College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
• Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust


Watch videos of patients who have benefitted from a LAAO:





More videos:

Marjorie          Ingrid          Billy          Bill          Postons


Further information for healthcare professionals


Get in touch for more help and information

01789 867


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