The Left Atrial Appendage in Humans: Structure, Physiology, and Pathogenesis

Nabeela Karim; Siew Yen Ho; Edward Nicol; Wei Li; Filip Zemrak; Vias Markides; Vivek Reddy; Tom Wong


Europace. 2020;22(1):5-18. 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


For many years, the left atrial appendage (LAA) was considered a dormant embryological remnant; however, it is a structurally complex and functional organ that contributes to cardiac haemodynamic changes and volume homeostasis through both its contractile properties and neurohormonal peptide secretion. When dysfunctional, the LAA contributes to thrombogenesis and subsequent increased predisposition to cardioembolic events. Consequently, the LAA has gained much attention as a therapeutic target to lower this risk. In addition, attention has focused on the LAA in its role as an electrical trigger for atrial tachycardia and atrial fibrillation with ablation of the LAA to achieve electrical isolation showing promising results in the maintenance of sinus rhythm. This in-depth review explores the structure, physiology and pathophysiology of the LAA, as well as LAA intervention and their sequelae.