Questions Welcome at Virtual Podium in “Ask the Experts” Sessions

STS 2021, Day 3 — STS 2021 attendees will have a virtual opportunity to interact peer-to-peer with master surgeons today during 20 “Ask the Experts” sessions.

These sessions, conducted in a non-presentation style, represent a variety of disciplines and topics, and participants have the opportunity to attend multiple sessions and bring their most pressing questions and concerns.

Beginning at 8:30 a.m. ET, attendees can join discussions about minimizing blood transfusions throughout a procedure, congenital heart surgery in the developing world, an update on lung cancer screening, and Medicare cuts and advocacy. 

Master surgeons Tirone David, MD, and D. Craig Miller, MD, will share experiences from their “lifetime journey” with mitral valve repair, giving attendees a glimpse of how the procedure has evolved over the years, advice for career surgeons, and their projections for future techniques.

Participants also can glean the latest insights on how surgeons are coping with COVID-19, in a “lessons learned” session on extracorporeal life support and “Entering the Lion’s Den: Conquering the COVID Unknown.”

At 9:15 a.m. ET, the discussions continue with a delicate COVID-related question: “Is lung transplantation justified for patients with COVID-19 related lung failure?” For surgeons with a focus on the congenital surgery discipline—or those considering that path—a full panel of seven world-class congenital heart surgeons, including Subhadra Shashidharan, MBBS, James Gangemi, MD, and Christopher Caldarone, MD, will offer advice for navigating a career.

Attendees also can get expert advice for managing degenerative mitral regurgitation in patients at intermediate risk or dealing with postcardiotomy shock. Another option is to join the “heart-to-heart conversation” about the state of transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR)—hot TAVR topics may include the role of TAVR in younger patients, the use of TAVR in patients with concomitant coronary or mitral disease, developing a TAVR program, minimizing costs, and discussion of the future of the procedure. In Changes In Cardiothoracic Training and Certification, panelists from the American Board of Thoracic Surgery will outline recent changes and what they mean for physicians at every stage in their careers. Another session offers encouragement on staying motivated as the specialty faces decreased reimbursement and hospital employment.

As transcatheter mitral and tricuspid procedures appear to be falling into the hands of surgeons, attendees can join Drs. Vinod Thourani, Tsuyoshi Kaneko and Michael Reardon in asking: “Really?” 

The conversations continue at 10:00 a.m. ET, with two topics on health care disparities—in coronary artery disease/revascularization and in cardiothoracic surgery. Other discussions will focus on physician wellness and STS Congenital Heart Surgery Database data analytics. 

For surgical teams working with children, Carl Backer, MD, from the UK HealthCare Kentucky Children’s Hospital in Lexington, will be available to provide expert insights about managing the pediatric airway. And Lars Svensson, from the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, will provide a glimpse into the future.

By 2030, the specialty can expect to see an increase in less-invasive cardioaortic procedures, said Dr. Svensson, and TAVR and transcutaneous procedures will dominate. He predicts that endovascular aortic procedures will be performed more often in older patients, but their effectiveness—and long-term durability—will still be a concern. Centers of Excellence will have to manage more complex procedures and follow up on failures. 

Dr. Svensson also predicts that bundled care will impose more restrictions on expensive percutaneous procedures and that the majority of physicians’ salaries will be interlinked with their value to the institution.

As Dr. Joseph Dearani said yesterday in his Presidential Address, the virtual meeting experience allows more attendees to have their voices heard. STS 2021 participants should not hesitate to speak up, ask questions, and fully seize this unique opportunity to hear insights first-hand from and ask questions of world-renowned surgeons.

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