Highly Anticipated STS 2021 Is Gearing Up to be Unlike Any Other Event


With just 3 weeks to go before the start of STS 2021—the Society’s first-ever interactive, fully digital meeting—the growing expectation is that the event will be unlike anything that cardiothoracic surgery has experienced to date. 

Thousands of surgeons, residents, physician assistants, nurses, and other members of the surgical team will gather virtually January 29-31, for 2.5 days of practice-changing research, thought-provoking lectures, immersive video experiences, pro/con debates, and cutting-edge techniques and technologies.

STS 2021 will offer a state-of-the art virtual conference platform with an innovative learning environment, reliable functionality, and intuitive navigation. With increased flexibility and expanded reach, attendees will be able to connect in ways never before possible and actively learn in a uniquely immersive and engaging online setting.

“After a harrowing year in which we have been impacted by COVID and racial, social, and economic unrest, this meeting will bring us together from around the world to share the latest scientific advances, celebrate cardiothoracic surgery, reaffirm our dedication to patient care, and reflect on our accomplishments, resilience, and friendship,” said Juan A. Crestanello, MD, chair of the Workforce on Annual Meeting.

Educational Sessions 

The rich and diverse educational program—which is the foundation of STS 2021—has something for everyone, no matter their area of practice. More than 475 high-scoring scientific abstracts will be presented, with content showcasing the latest research and hot topics from adult cardiac, general thoracic, congenital, critical care, health policy, ethics, and patient safety. 

The top-rated scientific abstracts that will be presented have been designated as the J. Maxwell Chamberlain Memorial Papers in honor of the renowned cardiothoracic surgeon who helped found The Society of Thoracic Surgeons. Also important are the Richard E. Clark Memorial Papers, which will highlight research utilizing data from the STS National Database. And for the first time, the program will include Chamberlain and Clark papers for critical care. All of these highly regarded papers will be featured on Saturday morning during specialty-specific parallel sessions.

In order to accommodate busy schedules, as well as a global audience, live sessions will be offered after-the-fact in an on-demand program library. Importantly, STS 2021 will be available with real-time translation in 17 different languages performed by artificial intelligence-based software.

New! Immersive Video Experiences

Another first for the STS Annual Meeting will be the exciting new course series: “Immersive Video Experiences.” 

The series, scheduled for Friday morning, will open with visits to the operating rooms of five different surgeon luminaries. These “In the OR with…” sessions will offer an interactive and visceral way to experience a robotic lobectomy, a congenital heart surgery, a valve-sparing aortic root procedure (reimplantation), a video-assisted thoracoscopic (VATS) lobectomy, a transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR), and a transcatheter mitral valve-in-valve replacement.

Alongside world-class surgeons—Robert J. Cerfolio, MD, MBA, from NYU Langone Health in New York City, Joseph A. Dearani, MD, from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, Joseph E. Bavaria, MD, from Penn Medicine in Philadelphia, Shanda H. Blackmon, MD, MPH, from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, and Vinod H. Thourani, MD, from Piedmont Heart Institute in Atlanta, Georgia—attendees will experience 360° views of these procedures from start to finish. 

The series makes available “all of the optics” in the operating room: How do the team members get along? How do they move around the OR? What’s the culture in the room? How is the OR set up? What's being said during the surgery? What is the leadership style of the surgeon? Is it effective?

“The immersive video experiences don’t offer a myopic view that just studies the surgical field and the technical exercise of the operation. But more so, the series offers additional unique features that help participants really understand how surgery is a team sport,” Dr. Cerfolio said. 

During the sessions, the surgeons will talk through their thought processes and the actual operative techniques, as well as demonstrate the difference between good outcomes and incredibly masterful ones. A moderator will discuss with the surgeon key aspects of the procedure, drive the 360° views, and engage the audience during interactive discussion periods.

Following the “In the OR” series will be 11 “Deep Dive” courses. In these sessions, expert surgeons will share deep, comprehensive dives into various procedures, using a combination of video segments and interactive group discussions. The detailed descriptions, in-depth explanations, and meaningful conversations will provide participants with a full-bodied understanding of surgical topics such as valve replacement strategies in infants, minimally invasive esophagectomy, and chest wall reconstruction after tumor resection.

The Immersive Video Experiences are an optional add-on program that can be secured during registration for an extra fee and include both the “In the OR with…” and “Deep Dive” sessions (16 in all). 

Ask the Experts

Another interactive experience with master surgeons will be “Ask the Experts" chats on Sunday morning, which will allow for direct peer-to-peer conversations in a non-presentation style. 

These sessions—more than 20 of them—will feature a diverse group of leaders in cardiothoracic surgery discussing various topics on wellness, physician reimbursement, health care disparities, lung cancer screening, and much more. 

A link to the complete online program is available at sts.org/annualmeeting; attendees also will soon be able to access the STS 2021 conference platform, which is expected to be available to registrants a few days before the meeting.