Amplatzer Steerable Delivery Sheath Complications

Amplatzer Steerable Delivery Sheath complications include changes in blood flow, blood pressure and oxygen levels in the blood. Severe ASDS complications, such as air embolisms, can be fatal. The FDA issued a Class 1 recall of Abbott’s Amplatzer Steerable Delivery Sheath due to these complications.

Last Modified: November 16, 2023
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Are ASDS Complications Serious?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has issued a warning about Abbott’s Amplatzer Steerable Delivery Sheath presenting a risk of introducing air bubbles into a patient, which can lead to serious complications and even fatalities. The most serious health concerns of an air embolism include stroke or death.

An air embolism can also cause an acute or sudden reduction in blood flow to the heart, low blood pressure, an abnormally high heart rate (tachycardia) or an abnormally low heart rate (bradycardia). It can also cause low blood oxygen levels.

The ASDS is a cardiac catheter that enters the body through the skin and provides a pathway to insert catheter-based devices into the chamber of the heart. Abbott Vascular designed the tool to improve the efficiency and ease of use when working left atrial appendage anatomies.


An embolism is the blockage of an artery. The body’s organs and tissues need oxygen carried in the bloodstream to function and a disruption can cause impaired organ function or even failure. With the use of the ASDS, the risk of an embolism presents a serious complication.

“Abbott is recalling the Amplatzer Steerable Delivery Sheath due to an increased risk for air bubbles (air emboli) to be introduced into patients who have procedures with this device.”

Abbott issued the recall after receiving 16 injury reports with a direct link to its ASDS cardiac catheter. In addition to these injuries, the company received another 10 incident reports related to the increased risk of air bubbles.

The FDA classified the Amplatzer Steerable Delivery Sheath recall as a Class 1 event. This is the most serious type of recall the agency issues. A stroke or cardiac embolism can potentially be life-threatening.

Heart Attack

An air embolism stemming from a cardiac catheterization that affects coronary circulation can lead to a heart attack. Cardiac catheterization is a medical procedure used to diagnose or treat some heart conditions.

Though small air embolisms have minimal clinical consequences, a large embolism can lead to myocardial infarction (heart attack), hemodynamic instability (unstable blood pressure) and ventricular arrhythmia.

Heart Attack Facts:
  • A blocked artery can cause the body to develop blood clots.
  • If a blood clot dislodges and reaches the heart, it can cause a cardioembolic stroke.
  • Coronary thrombosis is a blocked artery in the heart that can lead to a heart attack.

Medical intervention for a heart attack depends on the severity of the event. Medications and procedures can break up the clot, while resuscitative measures can address failed or irregular heartbeat.


The FDA also warns of the possibility of a stroke when using ASDS. A stroke occurs when there is an interruption or reduction in the supply of blood to the brain that causes cells to die. Strokes are medical emergencies, with early intervention critical for reducing brain damage and paralysis.

“Air embolism can also potentially lead to serious health consequences including stroke and death.”

The use of an ASDS increases the risk of a stroke because of the potential for inducing an air embolism. It’s possible for air to enter the arterial bed directly during a procedural use of ASDS.

In veins higher than the heart, higher atmospheric pressure can cause the air bubble to rise and cause cerebral venous occlusion and infarction. This means a blood clot develops and potentially leads to hemorrhaging within the brain.

Hypertension or Hypotension

In situations where the use of ASDS leads to an air embolism, the obstructions can impact the heart. When the heart works too hard it can lead to hypertension. Blood pressure that is too high increases the risk of a stroke.

“Air embolism can lead to injuries such as sudden (acute) reduction in blood flow to the heart (indicated by ST elevation), fast or slow heartbeat (tachycardia or bradycardia), low blood pressure (hypotension), and lack of enough oxygen in the blood (desaturation).”

Decreased cardiac output from a reaction to an embolism causes low blood pressure or hypotension. With a blocked blood flow, the brain doesn’t receive enough blood, leading to a number of other complications.

Medications can help control blood pressure changes. Lifestyle changes with diet and exercise can assist with long-term regulation.

Pericardial Effusion

ASDS complications can include fluid build-up in the space around the heart, known as pericardial effusion. The risk is higher in procedures using a device like the ASDS to close large defects. Incomplete closure can lead to interrupted blood supply and fluid buildup.

Pericardial Effusion Key Facts
  • An embolism can lead to increased fluid in the lungs.
  • A pericardial effusion can prevent the heart from pumping blood normally.
  • A procedure to drain fluid from around the heart may be required.

A pericardial effusion impacts how the heart works. Left untreated, the fluid around the heart cavity presses in on the heart and prevents it from expanding. This can cause the heart to fill up with blood and cause heart failure.

Lawsuit Information
People who suffered serious complications after using an Amplatzer Steerable Delivery Sheath cardiac catheter are filing lawsuits.
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What to Do if You’ve Experienced ASDS Complications

If you believe you’re dealing with ASDS complications, it’s important to talk to your doctor immediately. The potential for life-threatening complications makes medical intervention a necessity. Your doctor will know your medical history and the risks you face.

Those who have experienced ASDS-related injuries are also filing Amplatzer Steerable Delivery Sheath lawsuits. Injuries named in suits include embolisms, reduced blood flow, changed heart rates or blood pressure requiring medical attention, as well as stroke, cardiac issues and death.

Suits seek compensation to cover medical expenses, lost wages and other related expenses. A consultation with an experienced product liability lawyer can best determine if you’re eligible to file.

Please seek the advice of a medical professional before making health care decisions.