International Journal of Legal Medicine

, Volume 131, Issue 1, pp 191–197 | Cite as

Pulmonary artery perforation and coronary air embolism—two fatal outcomes in percutaneous left atrial appendage occlusion

  • J. Zwirner
  • R. Bayer
  • C. Hädrich
  • A. Bollmann
  • N. Klein
  • J. Dreßler
  • B. OndruschkaEmail author
Case Report


Percutaneous left atrial appendage (LAA) closure is a routinely performed method to reduce the risk of stroke in patients suffering from atrial fibrillation, when an oral anticoagulation is no longer indicated due to relevant bleeding complications. Currently, the Amplatzer Amulet and the Watchman system are two equally used systems. While there is an acute success rate of more than 95 per cent for this intervention, several minor and major complications such as pericardial effusions, air embolism, vascular lesions in proximity to the heart or even death can occur. Here, we report two cases of very rare fatal outcomes in percutaneous LAA occlusion. Eight hours after deployment of an Amplatzer Amulet a patient died, after the pulmonary trunk was perforated by a hook of the occluder device causing pericardial tamponade. In the second case during final radiological position control of the deployed Watchman occluder air was injected accidentally. The patient immediately died due to coronary air embolism. Forensic autopsies are necessary to solve the cause and manner of death, to evaluate and develop medical devices and to rule out medical malpractice. Thus, a close collaboration of legal medicine and the various cardiologic departments is proposed.


Left atrial appendage occlusion Amplatzer amulet Watchman device Pulmonary artery perforation Coronary air embolism Medical malpractice 



We want to thank the public prosecution office for the access to the complete investigation files and their approval for publishing the case reports.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Supplementary material


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. Zwirner
    • 1
  • R. Bayer
    • 1
  • C. Hädrich
    • 1
  • A. Bollmann
    • 2
  • N. Klein
    • 3
  • J. Dreßler
    • 1
  • B. Ondruschka
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.University of Leipzig, Institute of Legal MedicineLeipzigGermany
  2. 2.University of Leipzig - Heart Center, Department of ElectrophysiologyLeipzigGermany
  3. 3.Hospital St. Georg Leipzig, Clinic for Cardiology, Angiology and Intensive CareLeipzigGermany

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