Watchman device

Posted by phoenix1647 @phoenix1647, Jan 1, 2021

I was to have a watchman device implanted on Dec 22.2020. The procedure was a failure in that out of 3 devices, none would seal off the opening. Very disappointed in this. Surgeon said the rep from the makers told him they are coming out with newer devices that will be more flexable sometime in Feb, Mar, Apr timeframe. I am on the list to get one of those. The procedure itself was full of surprises for me. Please make sure you know what is going to happen in your procedure.

Interested in more discussions like this? Go to the Heart Rhythm Conditions group.

@amandaa

Hi @twohearts and welcome to Mayo Clinic Connect. You will see that I moved your post to include you in an ongoing discussion about the watchman device so you can connect with members that in your same situation.

I thought you might be interested in a few articles about the Watchman as well:
Watchman in the Real World: Reports on Use in High-Risk Patients and Overall Safety: https://consultqd.clevelandclinic.org/watchman-in-the-real-world-reports-on-use-in-high-risk-patients-and-overall-safety/

The Efficacy and Safety of the WATCHMAN Device in LAA Occlusion in Patients with Non-Valvular Atrial Fibrillation Contraindicated to Oral Anticoagulation: A Focused Review: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6300422/

Evaluating Real-World Clinical Outcomes in Atrial Fibrillation Patients Receiving the WATCHMAN Left Atrial Appendage Closure Technology: https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/10.1161/CIRCEP.118.006841

Did you ask your doctor why he wants to switch your medication?

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Thank you so much for all the helpful links. It was so kind of you to help me out.

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This is what bothers me, the Watchman is fairly new, does it really work???

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I'm anxious to get off oral anticoagulants, but I've found it difficult to get wholly unbiased information about the Watchman device. The company is SO aggressive about marketing it it colors most of the presentation online. (And no wonder, as it seems to be their BIGTIME moneymaker.)

I gather things have improved since they began implanting it, and I hope so as there appear to have been a number of "adverse events" in the beginning. Also surgeons became more experienced in performing the procedure.

Could you please describe some of the "surprises" you (author) encountered in the procedure?

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@realitytest

I'm anxious to get off oral anticoagulants, but I've found it difficult to get wholly unbiased information about the Watchman device. The company is SO aggressive about marketing it it colors most of the presentation online. (And no wonder, as it seems to be their BIGTIME moneymaker.)

I gather things have improved since they began implanting it, and I hope so as there appear to have been a number of "adverse events" in the beginning. Also surgeons became more experienced in performing the procedure.

Could you please describe some of the "surprises" you (author) encountered in the procedure?

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Every hospital, surgeon, and cath lab will be a little different. All will say about the same thing when describing their procedure. My team told me almost nothing about how the procedure would go in the cath lab. I had a right heart cath years ago and figured it would be about the same. Was I ever wrong. Total difference. Best thing I can say is try to talk to someone from the cath lab if you can. Ask exactly what their procedure is so you can mentally prepare for it. I have two conditions that affected my experience in the lab. First, I have what is called GYMNOPHOBIA (fear of being seen naked in front of strangers) and second one is called MERTINTHOPHOBIA (fear of being tied down). During my procedure I was stripped of my gown for over 30 minutes and was also tied down. I had no clue they were going to do this until t happened. That has caused me a lot of mental stress. Even now, a year later, I still have issues about that.
So, try to talk to your medical team and the cath lab about any issues you may have.
My Watchman procedure went good and I have had no issues with the device itself. No problems getting off the blood thinners either.

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@phoenix1647

Every hospital, surgeon, and cath lab will be a little different. All will say about the same thing when describing their procedure. My team told me almost nothing about how the procedure would go in the cath lab. I had a right heart cath years ago and figured it would be about the same. Was I ever wrong. Total difference. Best thing I can say is try to talk to someone from the cath lab if you can. Ask exactly what their procedure is so you can mentally prepare for it. I have two conditions that affected my experience in the lab. First, I have what is called GYMNOPHOBIA (fear of being seen naked in front of strangers) and second one is called MERTINTHOPHOBIA (fear of being tied down). During my procedure I was stripped of my gown for over 30 minutes and was also tied down. I had no clue they were going to do this until t happened. That has caused me a lot of mental stress. Even now, a year later, I still have issues about that.
So, try to talk to your medical team and the cath lab about any issues you may have.
My Watchman procedure went good and I have had no issues with the device itself. No problems getting off the blood thinners either.

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I read your description carefully (I believe you are the contributor who described his surgery in great detail) and I. can't tell you how grateful I am for your going to the trouble to do so.

I made notes of what to ask of my surgeon and team (jello or pudding after I come to – NOT a dry sandwich! That was you, right?) and am mentally preparing myself for considerably more pain and discomfort than I had otherwise expected. (To team _- please get LOTS of warm blankets ready post surgically!! Catheter too owing to my urge incontinence and other urinary issues neurologically based.)

What I'm wondering is how different is my experience apt to be if I go to a local surgeon as opposed to the Cleveland Clinic which is a four hour drive – thinking more safety and consideration. Heart surgery IS heart surgery and besides there are several steps of surgery, right – even if the first device tried is. a good fit.

Thank you again for you help to your fellow patients! A. good deed.

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@realitytest

I read your description carefully (I believe you are the contributor who described his surgery in great detail) and I. can't tell you how grateful I am for your going to the trouble to do so.

I made notes of what to ask of my surgeon and team (jello or pudding after I come to – NOT a dry sandwich! That was you, right?) and am mentally preparing myself for considerably more pain and discomfort than I had otherwise expected. (To team _- please get LOTS of warm blankets ready post surgically!! Catheter too owing to my urge incontinence and other urinary issues neurologically based.)

What I'm wondering is how different is my experience apt to be if I go to a local surgeon as opposed to the Cleveland Clinic which is a four hour drive – thinking more safety and consideration. Heart surgery IS heart surgery and besides there are several steps of surgery, right – even if the first device tried is. a good fit.

Thank you again for you help to your fellow patients! A. good deed.

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First…as I understand it, only doctors that have been certified can put in a Watchman. If your local area has a doctor who is certified, then I see no problem. The procedure is done in a cath lad. After the procedure, you will go to a recovery room and then spend one night in the hospital. The first procedure that failed, I had very little pain after the surgery. The second procedure went very well however, they had some issues closing the vein when they took out the cath and had to use a device to close it up. That was very painfull. I had a lot of pain afterwards. I was very sore for weeks. Second, on the successful procedure, they used both sides of the groin. Instead of doing a normal TEE during surgery, they used the left groin with a cath. When you arre prepped, they will shave both sides of the groin.
What I wanted most after coming out of surgery was something cold to drink. Once in your hospital room they will come in very often to check the site for bleeding. My second surgery, I had some super nurses. All were very nice to me. Can't say much good about hospital food. After surgery you will spend a lot of time lying flat on your back……something I don't like doing, but it is necessary.
If you are taking any meds, I would bring them with you. They messed up on my meds both times. Some hospitals will allow you to bring your own meds so please ask if that is OK.
It is normal to be nervous about any surgery. but these Watchman procedures are really easy. You should have no problems. You will be asleep during the procedure. Remember, these people are all professionals and do this all the time. If I can be of any more help. please feel free to ask. One just can't get too much information when it comes to their health. Good luck with your procedure. Let us know how it went.

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I just got off the phone with my son, and we were mostly discussing this procedure and the info I was collecting about the experience itself – your info in particular. Now you've given me even more to psych myself up for! Thank you. As I recall your first op didn't succeed because the device didn't fit (and you had to wait for new sizes to come out?).

It's both good and bad that we're having these things done when we are. The very first patients were kind of guinea pigs if only because the surgeons were new at it. Now they're better, especially the ones who specialize (just found one an hour away). I HAD hoped the Cleveland Clinic docs and staff might have a more fine-tuned way of attending to patient comfort to the extent possible, even if it isn't a 5 star hotel! Plenty of warm blankets post-op if needing them then is expectable, seems like a basic.

The pain (inevitable and possibly extra if one's situation leads to it) is more daunting than when I just went by the la-de-da version presented on the Watchman web page, but at least I don't have to worry about embarrassing erections LOL! (Ha, I remembered). The insertion of the catheter in the femoral vein (possibly both sides – hope not!) , the post op cold, the nudity, and urinary retention – considering my special problems – are not pleasant prospects. I'll ask for accommodations in advance, though, thanks to your advice (THE WARM BLANKETS. especially. Also, catheters.)

Still wondering about the Cleveland Clinic especially as the more I think about it, the more I think my cardiologist is (however nice) sub-par, and that I need a thorough cardiac work up. My sibs and I inherited cardiac problems (I thought until recently, it was almost exclusively a lipid disorder), but as we age I am identifying more areas in need of supervision. One of my two brothers died suddenly in his sleep a year ago, and that certainly gave both survivors food for thought about our self-care including the best possible cardiologists. My brother's in a good area (Sarasota FL) but my rural PA area is definitely "medically underserved" . I think it would be a good idea to have a better going over heart-wise. even though the other certified surgeons would probably get me through alive. I had a 9 hour spinal surgery six years ago, and I decided to go with the head of the spinal clinic at the NY Hospital for Special Surgery – supposedly the best orthopedic hospital in the nation. (That was after eight consults!). He made rather a hash of it (looking into revision surgery elsewhere), so I know the biggest names aren't necessarily a guarantee of the best results.

May I ask where you had your Watchman implanted? My son thought you must have had an especially bad experience perhaps owing to where you went, but I said I had the feeling you were just "telling it like it was", not that it was unusually rough treatment. (Just remembered another thing I need to check out thoroughly – insurance. You DID say the cost of the failed first op had cost ~$176K and still counting? I may be mixing up replies on CONNECT. I have Medicare + Medigap Plan F (no longer available) but I'd better dot my I's and cross my T's there too.

Many thanks again for your kind efforts to prepare me. Somehow I'm getting almost as psyched up to it, as before the spinal operation though the frequency of serious side effects from that are known to be much greater. (I believe about 300,000 patients have acquired Watchmen, with a total of ~300 deaths resulting.).

Sorry all for going on so! Perhaps I took your invitation too literally.

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@realitytest

I just got off the phone with my son, and we were mostly discussing this procedure and the info I was collecting about the experience itself – your info in particular. Now you've given me even more to psych myself up for! Thank you. As I recall your first op didn't succeed because the device didn't fit (and you had to wait for new sizes to come out?).

It's both good and bad that we're having these things done when we are. The very first patients were kind of guinea pigs if only because the surgeons were new at it. Now they're better, especially the ones who specialize (just found one an hour away). I HAD hoped the Cleveland Clinic docs and staff might have a more fine-tuned way of attending to patient comfort to the extent possible, even if it isn't a 5 star hotel! Plenty of warm blankets post-op if needing them then is expectable, seems like a basic.

The pain (inevitable and possibly extra if one's situation leads to it) is more daunting than when I just went by the la-de-da version presented on the Watchman web page, but at least I don't have to worry about embarrassing erections LOL! (Ha, I remembered). The insertion of the catheter in the femoral vein (possibly both sides – hope not!) , the post op cold, the nudity, and urinary retention – considering my special problems – are not pleasant prospects. I'll ask for accommodations in advance, though, thanks to your advice (THE WARM BLANKETS. especially. Also, catheters.)

Still wondering about the Cleveland Clinic especially as the more I think about it, the more I think my cardiologist is (however nice) sub-par, and that I need a thorough cardiac work up. My sibs and I inherited cardiac problems (I thought until recently, it was almost exclusively a lipid disorder), but as we age I am identifying more areas in need of supervision. One of my two brothers died suddenly in his sleep a year ago, and that certainly gave both survivors food for thought about our self-care including the best possible cardiologists. My brother's in a good area (Sarasota FL) but my rural PA area is definitely "medically underserved" . I think it would be a good idea to have a better going over heart-wise. even though the other certified surgeons would probably get me through alive. I had a 9 hour spinal surgery six years ago, and I decided to go with the head of the spinal clinic at the NY Hospital for Special Surgery – supposedly the best orthopedic hospital in the nation. (That was after eight consults!). He made rather a hash of it (looking into revision surgery elsewhere), so I know the biggest names aren't necessarily a guarantee of the best results.

May I ask where you had your Watchman implanted? My son thought you must have had an especially bad experience perhaps owing to where you went, but I said I had the feeling you were just "telling it like it was", not that it was unusually rough treatment. (Just remembered another thing I need to check out thoroughly – insurance. You DID say the cost of the failed first op had cost ~$176K and still counting? I may be mixing up replies on CONNECT. I have Medicare + Medigap Plan F (no longer available) but I'd better dot my I's and cross my T's there too.

Many thanks again for your kind efforts to prepare me. Somehow I'm getting almost as psyched up to it, as before the spinal operation though the frequency of serious side effects from that are known to be much greater. (I believe about 300,000 patients have acquired Watchmen, with a total of ~300 deaths resulting.).

Sorry all for going on so! Perhaps I took your invitation too literally.

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Was happy to read your reply to my reply…..lol. I had my second Watchman done at TCAI in Austin Texas by Dr Horton. This doctor was in on the ground floor of starting the Watchman procedures and is VERY good at what he does. He has patients come in from all around the world to get their procedure done by him. He has several other doctors who do the same work. The day I had my procedure, the lady ahead of me came in from WI and another patient was from HI. Both flew in just to have their procedures done at TCAI. Google TCAI and it will direct you to their website. I live about 90 miles from Austin. Drove in the morning of my procedure, and came home next day. So travel was not an issue for me. I for one, do not get concerned about traveling when it comes to my medical I go with the doctor/hospital that I feel is best for me. My wife was allowed to stay in my room all night on a couch.
For insurance, I am on Medicare and Tricare for Life (retired military) and between the two, I had NO co-payments.
I agree with you about the Watchman website….it is not all that good and does not give that much usefull information. I did a lot of research on this and read many articles from different websites and hospitals trying to get as much info as I could. It looks like you are ready to get this done. Go for it. I can not vouch for the clinic you are taling about as I know nothing about them other that the internet.
My best advice: Once you decide to get the Watchman and select where/who is going to do the procedure, go for it. Do not try to second guess yourself. It sounds like you are mentally prepared for this and you should be fine. At any time, if you do have a question, call your medical team and ask. And always remember, YOU ARE IN CHARGE! Once the Watchman is in place, you will not feel it at all, Give yourself plenty of time to heal, do not rush recovery. Best of luck.

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@phoenix1647

Was happy to read your reply to my reply…..lol. I had my second Watchman done at TCAI in Austin Texas by Dr Horton. This doctor was in on the ground floor of starting the Watchman procedures and is VERY good at what he does. He has patients come in from all around the world to get their procedure done by him. He has several other doctors who do the same work. The day I had my procedure, the lady ahead of me came in from WI and another patient was from HI. Both flew in just to have their procedures done at TCAI. Google TCAI and it will direct you to their website. I live about 90 miles from Austin. Drove in the morning of my procedure, and came home next day. So travel was not an issue for me. I for one, do not get concerned about traveling when it comes to my medical I go with the doctor/hospital that I feel is best for me. My wife was allowed to stay in my room all night on a couch.
For insurance, I am on Medicare and Tricare for Life (retired military) and between the two, I had NO co-payments.
I agree with you about the Watchman website….it is not all that good and does not give that much usefull information. I did a lot of research on this and read many articles from different websites and hospitals trying to get as much info as I could. It looks like you are ready to get this done. Go for it. I can not vouch for the clinic you are taling about as I know nothing about them other that the internet.
My best advice: Once you decide to get the Watchman and select where/who is going to do the procedure, go for it. Do not try to second guess yourself. It sounds like you are mentally prepared for this and you should be fine. At any time, if you do have a question, call your medical team and ask. And always remember, YOU ARE IN CHARGE! Once the Watchman is in place, you will not feel it at all, Give yourself plenty of time to heal, do not rush recovery. Best of luck.

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Debating whether to travel four hours to Cleveland for the Watchman procedure (there's a surgeon nearer but my son and I would prefer theCleveland CLinic as I really need a total quality cardiac work-up – my home area is medically sub-par overall.

However, I wonder how many trips to the treating surgeon and facility would apt to be involved in having this procedure (not counting the annual post-up check-ups). It's sounding like at least 1/2 dozen even without complications.

I should add that his father recently died of a cardio-vascular issue, and my sons are especially worried about me now – saying "we don't want to lose our only remaining parent." However, they live far from me (the one who's pressing me to the Cleveland Clinic is in SF while I'm in Central PA), and can't fly here to help to drive me for procedures and check-ups more than a few times. – and it would be quite a hardship to drive myself to and from Cleveland. I'm not even sure I could manage it.

Can anyone help me, please?

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