SGMC Launches Watchman Device for Atrial Fibrillation Treatment

Post to: May 18, 2023

Members of SGMC’s Cardiac Electrophysiology Program celebrate the completion of the first WATCHMAN case.

The South Georgia Medical Center is now offering a procedure that can reduce the likelihood of stroke for patients with atrial fibrillation (AFib) not caused by heart valve problems. SGMC’s cardiac electrophysiology team recently implanted her WATCHMAN™ device in its first patient. This device has been proven to help patients with atrial fibrillation who cannot tolerate long-term blood thinners.

Patients with atrial fibrillation are five times more likely to have a stroke, said Dr. Kamil Hanna, an electrophysiologist who performed the procedure for the first time at SGMC. “With a large population of South Georgia residents suffering from atrial fibrillation, being able to provide this advanced treatment will minimize the risk of stroke and keep patients safe,” he said. .

AFib patients usually need to take blood thinners to prevent blood clots from forming. Patients who cannot take blood thinners because of a risk of bleeding or a history of falls may undergo this procedure to stop blood thinners. The procedure to implant the WATCHMAN™ device is performed in He SGMC’s cardiac electrophysiology laboratory, and most patients are discharged the same day or the next day. SGMC is the only hospital in South Georgia to perform this surgery.

During the procedure, a catheter is inserted through the groin and used to place the device in the left atrial appendage, where thrombi most commonly occur. The device has a metal frame shaped like a parachute. It acts as a filter that prevents blood clots from leaving the heart and entering the bloodstream.

SGMC has the region’s only cardiac electrophysiology program, an open-chest program, and a structural heart and valve center. These programs are recognized by the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association. For more information on SGMC’s innovative cardiovascular and vascular programs, please visit

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