Podcast Episodes

The Society's podcast, Surgical Hot Topics, features leaders in cardiothoracic surgery discussing important issues in the field. Please note: The comments included in these episodes are that of the individuals involved and not necessarily that of The Society of Thoracic Surgeons.

Find episodes here, or subscribe via the links below:

iTunes | Google Play | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | TuneIn Radio | CastBox


  • #53: Appropriate Use of Robotics in Cardiothoracic Surgery

    April 13, 2020

    Robotics is being called the “fourth industrial revolution." For some cardiothoracic surgeons, robotics means smaller, faster, and easier, resulting in patients getting out of the hospital sooner, having less pain, and returning to function faster. For others, the jury is still out on whether or not robotics will add long-term value, especially if surgeons face potential carpal tunnel injuries, back pain, and cervical stenosis. David T. Cooke, MD, moderates a panel discussion with Robert E. Merritt, MD, Lana Y. Schumacher, MD, Melanie A. Edwards, MD, and Inderpal S. Sarkaria, MD. They discuss the learning curve for robotic surgery, the complexity of procedures that can be performed robotically, a team approach to robotic surgery, getting hands-on experience, and future improvements to robotic technology.

  • #52: Beyond the Abstract: COVID-19 Guidance for Triage of Operations for Thoracic Malignancies

    April 13, 2020

    As the Society is taking proactive steps to help its members and other health care professionals deal with the evolving COVID-19 pandemic it is also developing guidance documents—one for each discipline. In the latest episode of "Beyond the Abstract," Dr. Daniel J. Boffa joins Dr. Thomas K. Varghese to talk about the guidance provided by representatives from multiple cancer, surgical, and research organizations for triaging patients with thoracic malignancies. Read the related Annals Article: "COVID-19 Guidance for Triage of Operations for Thoracic Malignancies."

  • #50: STS Responds to the COVID-19 Crisis

    March 31, 2020

    STS President Joseph A. Dearani, MD, updates members on the COVID-19 pandemic and explains how the Society is supporting cardiothoracic surgeons and patients.

  • #51: Young Professors: Insights and Tips for Early and Mid-Career Faculty

    March 29, 2020

    For cardiothoracic surgeons who are hoping to advance in their careers, it’s often difficult to balance clinical work with the scholarly activities that are necessary for promotion in a modern academic medicine environment. Ourania A. Preventza, MD, and colleagues including Himanshu J. Patel, MD, Elaine E. Tseng, MD, and Sunil Singhal, MD, provide insight on the processes required and tips to help young surgeons successfully get to the next step.

  • #49: Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning in Cardiothoracic Surgery

    March 23, 2020

    Cardiothoracic surgeons are studying the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to improve risk prediction in the hopes that patient outcomes also will improve. Arman Kilic, MD, and Ara A. Vaporciyan, MD, along with medical student Brian Ayers, discuss what AI and ML mean, how it can uncover previously unknown relationships in medical data, and how it can be used to assist the surgeon in the operating room.

  • #48: Expanding the Pool of Heart and Lungs for Organ Donors

    March 16, 2020

    More than 100,000 people in the United States currently are waiting for a lifesaving organ transplant, including 5,000 people on the transplant list for a heart and/or lungs, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing. Although some will die before they receive a transplant, surgeons and research teams are making great strides in expanding the pool of viable organs. Zachary N. Kon, MD, moderates a discussion with Ashish S. Shah, MD, Matthew G. Hartwig, MD, and Varun Puri, MD, MSCI, about new ways to assess organ quality, technologies to increase their viability, and ways to better match donors and recipients.

  • #47: Recognizing and Treating the Frail Cardiothoracic Surgery Patient

    March 9, 2020

    Understanding a patient’s frailty index is an important part of assessing the risks and benefits of a surgical procedure for a cardiothoracic surgery patient. Frailty sometimes is measured by a patient’s grip strength, weight, and walking test results, but standards for evaluating and treating frailty before surgery do not exist. Mark K. Ferguson, MD (The University of Chicago), moderates a panel discussion with Nimesh Desai, MD (University of Pennsylvania), Linda W. Martin, MD, MPH (University of Virginia), and Betty C. Tong, MD (Duke University Medical Center), about how to screen for frailty, interventions to help patients prepare for surgery, and optimizing post-operative treatment protocols for the frail patient.

  • #46: What Is the Best Way to Treat Heart Disease?

    March 2, 2020

    Cardiovascular disease is the #1 killer of people around the world, with approximately 18 million deaths annually, according to the World Health Organization. Treatment options for heart disease include lifestyle changes, stenting, and surgery. But which option is best and for which patients? Thomas E. MacGillivray, MD, moderates a panel discussion with Jennifer S. Lawton, MD, John D. Puskas, MD, Marc Ruel, MD, MPH, and Joseph F. Sabik III, MD. They explore recent results from the ISCHEMIA trial, implications for the heart team, and which patients benefit the most from percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI), coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG), or medical therapy.

  • #45: Strategies for Surgeons to Prevent Burnout

    February 24, 2020

    Cardiothoracic surgeons are at significant risk of burnout because of long work hours, delayed career gratification, complex health care, intense personality, and poor work-life balance. In fact, recent data show that more than half of cardiothoracic surgeons reported feeling burned out. In this important roundtable discussion, Thomas K. Varghese Jr., MD, MS, gathers tips to avoid burnout from Oliver S. Chow, MD, Michal Hubka, MD, and Susan D. Moffatt-Bruce, MD, PhD, MBA. Strategies include building strong networks, bonding with family and friends, meditation, spending time outdoors, and making wellness a goal of the entire health care team.

  • #44: The Changing Landscape of Tobacco Use

    February 2, 2020

    The biggest threat to lung health in the current era is vaping. Shanda H. Blackmon, MD, MPH, moderates a discussion about the changing landscape of tobacco use, which includes vaping as the new gateway to smoking. She and colleagues, J. Robert Headrick, MD, MBA, Matthew A. Steliga, MD, and Keith S. Naunheim, MD, describe the “terrifying” statistics about vaping, why patients are oftentimes afraid to seek help, the use of graphics warnings, and why bringing smoking cessation resources to patients may become more necessary.