Forrest General Conducts First FDA-Approved WATCHMAN FLX™ Implant in the State
CAPTION: Taking part in Tuesday’s procedure were, from left, Brooke Orman and Joy Lynn Nash, Boston Scientific Clinical representatives; Mark Borganelli, M.D.; Diego Alcivar, M.D.; Craig Thieling, M.D.; and Allison Henderson, PA-C and Watchman team coordinator.
HATTIESBURG, Miss. (December 10, 2020) – Forrest General became the first hospital in the state since FDA approval to offer the commercial WATCHMAN FLX™ implant. The procedure is for patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation (AF) and offers an alternative to long-term blood thinners.
The WATCHMAN FLX™ is the only FDA-approved implant proven to reduce stroke risk in people with AF not caused by a heart valve problem. More than six million Americans are affected by AF – an irregular heartbeat that feels like a quivering heart.
The WATCHMAN™ technology, which has been implanted in more than 100,000 patients worldwide, closes off an area of the heart called the left atrial appendage (LAA) to keep harmful blood clots that can form in the LAA from entering the blood stream and potentially causing a stroke. By closing off the LAA, the risk of stroke may be reduced and, over time, patients may be able to stop taking blood thinners. The newest version of the implant has an updated design to help treat more patients safely and effectively to ensure the best long-term outcomes.
A Forrest General medical team consisting of cardiologists, Diego Alcivar, MD, FACC; Craig Theiling, MD, FACC; and Thad Waites, MD, FACC, conducted a flawless procedure on Tuesday which lasted about an hour. The patient remained in the hospital overnight and went home the next day.
“This procedure is an alternative to blood thinners to reduce the risk of stroke in people with atrial fibrillation, who are at an increased risk of bleeding complications or have other reasons they cannot take blood thinners,” said Thieling. “The previous version, WATCHMAN 2.5, which physicians have been using, is an excellent device and has been very successful; this just improves on that. It’s safer to implant with less complications. It provides more sizes, so we can close both smaller and larger sized appendages than we could before, which in turn, allows us to treat more patients.”
Alcivar said the implant is about the size of a quarter and provides more mobility with sizes ranging from 20mm to 35mm. “This new therapy is perfect for those people who didn’t have the capacity to receive the WATCHMAN 2.5 implant that we were offering just a couple of months ago,” Alcivar said. “Approximately 98.8 percent of these type patients are able to get off blood thinners within a year’s time.”
Forrest General has been using the WATCHMAN device for four years and has implanted 93 devices; 52 have been implanted in the last year, according to Allison Henderson, PA-C. “For patients who need to come off blood thinners, this is a great alternative,” she said.
The procedure is done percutaneously through the right groin femoral vein in the leg with recovery taking a couple of days.
About Forrest General’s Cardiac Services
Forrest General’s Heart and Vascular Services delivers expert care from board-certified cardiologists, cardiovascular surgeons and vascular surgeons. Services range from diagnostic testing, heart surgery and structural heart treatment to interventional cardiology, cardiac rehabilitation and vascular treatment. To learn more about services, advanced treatment options or heart disease risks, signs and symptoms, visit www.forrestgeneral.com/heart.