The Valley Hospital is the First Center in the World to Utilize WATCHMAN™ TruPlan™ CT Imaging Software

March 23, 2021

The Valley Hospital has become the first center in the world to utilize leading-edge imaging software designed to enhance the safety and efficacy of a Watchman implant procedure.

In a collaborative effort between cardiac electrophysiologists and imaging specialists, the TruPlan™ CT Imaging Software is used during the pre-procedural planning for the WATCHMAN™ device to be placed in the heart of patients with atrial fibrillation who are at high risk of stroke, but who are unable to take blood-thinning medications.

“Our goal at Valley is to stay ahead of the curve in delivering the safest and most efficacious results through minimally invasive procedures like the Watchman,” commented cardiac electrophysiologist, Dr. Suneet Mittal, Medical Director, Snyder Center for Comprehensive Atrial Fibrillation. “We feel TruPlan and the new WATCHMAN FLX device offer patients those safer alternatives. We are proud to be the first in the world to utilize this revolutionary software, allowing us to more safely and expertly care for our patients with atrial fibrillation.” 

The emerging TruPlan software enables visualization and measurement of the heart and nearby structures during the pre-planning stages of left atrial appendage (LAA) procedures. No two patients have the same left atrial appendage, as critical differences are seen in shape, orientation, and morphology. Working in collaboration with Dr. Himanshu Gupta, Director of Cardiac Imaging, the Valley team digitally recreated the patient’s heart using the TruPlan software so it could determine the best method to implant the Watchman device as safely as possible. 

The Watchman can be implanted using minimally invasive techniques in patients who have been diagnosed with atrial fibrillation and are at high risk of stroke, but are unable to take blood-thinning medications. The Watchman technology has been implanted in more than 150,000 patients worldwide, with several hundred of these patients receiving a Watchman device at Valley. The Watchman device works by closing off the left atrial appendage of the heart to keep harmful blood clots from entering the bloodstream and potentially causing a stroke. By closing off the LAA, the risk of stroke is reduced and, over time, patients may be able to stop taking their blood-thinning medication. 

A second-generation Watchman technology, the FLX device, has been designed to help treat patients more safely and effectively to ensure the best long-term patient outcomes. This second-generation Watchman device is utilized at the Snyder Center for Comprehensive Atrial Fibrillation. 

Physicians performing the Watchman procedure look to minimize the patient’s time under anesthesia, identify the correct size Watchman device upfront, and locate the exact spot in the left atrial appendage where the device should be implanted. According to Dr. Mittal, “what the TruPlan software allows us to do for the first time is visualize the heart in advance of the procedure, enabling us to facilitate perfect deployment.” While the Valley heart team is able to adjust the Watchman device sizing or delivery sheath during the procedure, TruPlan eliminates the need for these changes. The hope is this will reduce the time needed to perform these procedures, which is expected to reduce the risk of post-procedural complications.

Watch Our Video 

Dr. Suneet Mittal, Medical Director, Snyder Center for Comprehensive Atrial Fibrillation discusses The Valley Hospital's achievement of becoming the first center in the world to utilize TruPlan™ CT Imaging Software designed to enhance the safety and efficacy of a Watchman implant procedure. 

About Atrial Fibrillation 

Atrial fibrillation (AF) is a heart condition where the upper chambers of the heart (atrium) beat too fast and with irregular rhythm (fibrillation). AF is the most common cardiac arrhythmia, currently affecting up to 6 million Americans. Stroke is the most common complication of AF, and AF-related strokes are also more frequently fatal and disabling.

In people with non-valvular AF, more than 90 percent of all stroke-causing clots that come from the heart form in the LAA. The most common treatment to reduce stroke risk in patients with AF is blood-thinning medication, such as warfarin. While very effective at reducing the risk of stroke, blood thinners increase the risk of serious bleeding over time and come with certain requirements and restrictions. 

For more information, or to arrange an interview with Dr. Mittal about this procedure, please contact Erin Blake, Communications & Marketing Associate, at 201-270-5720.