Las Palmas - Doctors look at screen before brain surgery
Dr. Shane Hawksworth, neurosurgery specialist (foreground) and Dr. Harold Smith, neurosciences medical director for Las Palmas Del Sol Healthcare, review imaging before the surgery begins. | Photo courtesy Del Sol Medical Center

Las Palmas Medical Center first in El Paso to utilize innovative device for patients with increased risk of stroke due to Atrial Fibrillation

On Nov. 17, Las Palmas Medical Center became the first facility in El Paso—and only one out of 23 in the country—to successfully implant the new AMPLATZER™ Amulet™ Left Atrial Appendage Occluder to seal off the left atrial appendage (LAA)—a small appendage connected to the left atrium—in patients diagnosed with non-valvular Atrial Fibrillation (A Fib).  

The minimally invasive treatment option, which was implanted in two patients on Nov. 17 by Rodney Horton, M.D., a cardiac electrophysiologist, at Las Palmas Medical Center, reduces the risk of stroke in a patient suffering from non-valvular A Fib.

“It is exciting to be the first hospital in El Paso to offer this innovative device that allows us to close LAAs that typically could otherwise not be closed,” Dr. Horton said. “It is also made from a material that allows us to completely and immediately seal the LAA, so blood-thinning medication is not needed following the procedure.”

In some patients with A Fib, the LAA does not contract effectively, causing blood clots. The clots can then be released into the heart and enter the bloodstream, where they can travel to the brain and cause a stroke. Currently, patients with A Fib who are at risk of stroke are often prescribed blood-thinning medication, but this treatment approach comes with a lifetime of medical management and the risk of major bleeding. By closing the LAA with the occluder, physicians can “seal off” the LAA and potentially reduce the risk of stroke.

The technology works by blocking the LAA at its opening, which minimizes the opportunity for blood clots to form in the LAA and migrate into the bloodstream, potentially causing a stroke. It is built with a longer lobe and waist than the previous version, and it is designed to allow for easier and more stable placement, which could result in shorter procedure times for patients. It comes in eight sizes to accommodate varying anatomies to address a wider range of complex patient anatomies than other LAA occluders.

The device, which received FDA approval and is available for people in the U.S. with A Fib who are at risk of ischemic stroke, is currently only offered in El Paso at Las Palmas Medical Center.

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