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 | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | TuneIn Radio | CastBox


  • #92: High-Impact Studies in Cardiac Surgery: Key Takeaways

    April 23, 2021

    In this episode of the STS Webinar Series, Joseph E. Bavaria, MD, and an expert panel engage in a lively and robust debate on takeaways from three recent and very prominent adult cardiac surgery manuscripts. Topics include findings from the ISCHEMIA trial, 2-year outcomes in low-risk transcatheter aortic valve replacement patients, and a new guideline on the timing and intervention for patients with valvular heart disease. Panelists include Anelechi C. Anyanwu, MD, MSc, FRCS, Pavan Atluri, MD, Steven F. Bolling, MD, David A. Fullerton, MD, Katherine Harrington, MD, Marc Ruel, MD, MPH, FRCSC, and Vinod H. Thourani, MD.

  • #91: Same Surgeon, Different Light: Dr. Loretta Erhunmwunsee

    April 16, 2021

    In this episode, Dr. David Tom Cooke interviews accomplished thoracic surgical oncologist and clinical researcher Dr. Loretta Erhunmwunsee from City of Hope in Duarte, California. This episode explores her journey from an early childhood in the Bronx, New York, to growing up in Montgomery, Alabama. Dr. Erhunmwunsee’s experience as a “southern black Christian girl who grew up in a Nigerian home” opened her eyes to the importance of different perspectives, backgrounds, and cultures. “It’s the way to win,” she shares. Listeners will learn that Dr. Erhunmwunsee chose a career in cardiothoracic surgery because “there is no place more beautiful than the chest—the beating heart, the lungs that are inflating and deflating—doing their own thing, but working in concert.” She explains her passion surrounding the removal and better understanding of cancer. Hear also what Dr. Erhunmwunsee says about sponsorship and mentorship, as well as the future of thoracic oncology and the role of multidisciplinary evaluation. “Same Surgeon, Different Light” is a program from the Society designed to demystify cardiothoracic surgery, revealing the men and women behind their surgical masks.

  • #90: Same Surgeon, Different Light: Dr. Elaine Tseng

    April 2, 2021

    In this episode, Dr. David Tom Cooke interviews Dr. Elaine Tseng from the University of California San Francisco. When it comes to the triple threat in academic surgery, Dr. Tseng “walks the walk.” A surgeon, scientist, and professor, she credits encouraging words from mentors and a near-death personal experience with helping her decide on a career in cardiothoracic surgery. Listeners will hear the details of Dr. Tseng growing up in North Carolina and sometimes feeling “stuck and not understood in many ways.” When she attended a high school for gifted and talented students, Dr. Tseng became part of a diverse community full of people from many different backgrounds; there, she finally felt accepted. Dr. Tseng shares that at 16, she started college at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which she describes as a “transformative experience.” And you don’t want to miss what Dr. Tseng says about the fields of cardiology and cardiothoracic surgery “coming closer and closer together” and what this means for patients. “Same Surgeon, Different Light” is a program from the Society designed to demystify cardiothoracic surgery, revealing the men and women behind their surgical masks.

  • #89: E/M Coding in 2021: Changes in Documentation and Code Selection

    March 29, 2021

    New codes and code changes are now in effect related to office/outpatient visits. This podcast episode provides the audio from a webinar in which  Aaron M. Cheng, MD, Francis C. Nichols III, MD, and Julie R. Painter, MBA, CCVTC, CPMA, gave cardiothoracic surgeons an overview of 2021 evaluation and management (E/M) codes, including changes to history, physical exam, medical decision-making and time, and how documentation and code-level selection have been impacted. Detailed case examples and audience questions about unique coding scenarios were addressed. View the slides.

  • #88: Same Surgeon, Different Light: Dr. Tom Nguyen

    March 19, 2021

    In this episode, Dr. David Tom Cooke interviews Dr. Tom Nguyen from the University of California San Francisco. Listeners will learn the details of Dr. Nguyen’s “classic immigrant story.” In 1975, when he and his family came to the US as political refugees from their native Vietnam, they were among the first Vietnamese to put their “feet in the soil” of this country. Dr. Nguyen shares that the difficult journey was full of “serendipity and circumstances” and shaped his life in profound ways. He learned English by watching cartoons—"Tom & Jerry" was his favorite—so much so that he chose “Tom” as his name when he became a US citizen. Why did Dr. Nguyen pursue medicine? Why not?, he asks. This career path led him away from his home of Houston, Texas, to prestigious institutions such as The Johns Hopkins University, Stanford University, and Columbia University. Hear what sage advice motivated Dr. Nguyen to challenge himself and learn from these different environments. And you don’t want to miss Dr. Nguyen’s predictions for the future of cardiothoracic surgery and what he thinks the specialty needs to embrace so it doesn’t become “extinct.”  “Same Surgeon, Different Light” is a program from the Society designed to demystify cardiothoracic surgery, revealing the men and women behind their surgical masks.

  • #87: Same Surgeon, Different Light: Dr. Ourania Preventza

    March 5, 2021

    In this episode, Dr. Tom Varghese interviews Dr. Ourania Preventza, from Baylor College of Medicine. The awe-inspiring journey of Dr. Preventza—an internationally known expert in aortic surgery—started in Athens, Greece, where she grew up and later attended medical school. Her father, who was a judge, always wanted her to go to law school, but Dr. Preventza thought that medical school would be “more challenging and competitive.” Listeners will learn that she eventually moved to the US—not knowing anyone—for her surgical residency. She describes feeling like an “outsider” and shares that being a “woman and a foreigner with an accent” made it especially difficult to navigate her studies in another country. But her grit, resilience, determination, and daily calls with her family, kept her going. Hear the personal details of why Dr. Preventza chose cardiothoracic surgery—an “amazing, evolving field” and her insights into diversity and inclusion efforts that she thinks help “cultivate a culture that encourages collaboration, flexibility, and fairness.”  “Same Surgeon, Different Light” is a program from The Society of Thoracic Surgeons (STS) designed to demystify cardiothoracic surgery, revealing the men and women behind their surgical masks.

  • #86: Same Surgeon, Different Light: Dr. Sidhu Gangadharan

    February 19, 2021

    In this episode, Dr. Tom Varghese interviews Dr. Sidhu Gangadharan from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School. Listeners will discover fascinating personal details about this surgeon leader, including how his experience working for a “rough and tumble” boss at a New Jersey gas station inspired him to become a surgeon. Dr. Gangadharan also shares that before starting medical school he spent some time “traipsing around.” This included moving to the East Village in Manhattan, letting his hair grow down to the middle of his back, walking around in a ripped, black trench coat and combat boots, and playing music in clubs until late at night. He eventually attended Dartmouth Medical School and went on to build a program at Beth Israel that is a world leader in diagnosing and treating tracheobronchomalacia. Once called a “little brown kid,” Dr. Gangadharan recognizes that oftentimes, experiences that you’re having are “highly dependent” on factors such as the color of your skin, your last name, and your religion. It’s important to spend “active energy thinking about how to create equity and an even playing field.” Hear what else he has to say about the diversity and inclusion efforts that he is leading at Beth Israel. “Same Surgeon, Different Light” is a program from the Society designed to demystify cardiothoracic surgery, revealing the men and women behind their surgical masks.

  • #85: STS 2021: Thomas B. Ferguson Lecture

    February 8, 2021

    Three prestigious surgeons on three continents provided their “Personal Reflections from COVID-19” during the STS Annual Meeting Thomas B. Ferguson Lecture. The surgeons shared their experiences and thoughts about the pandemic and how it has affected them, their families, institutions, colleagues, and their patients. Craig R. Smith Jr., MD, offered his view from Columbia University and NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital in New York City, Enrico Ruffini, MD, provided his perspective from the University of Torino in Italy, and Alan D.L. Sihoe, MD, MA, FRCSEd, described his experiences at Gleneagles Hospital in Hong Kong—an area that was the epicenter of the horrific SARS outbreak in 2003. 

  • #84: STS 2021: Vivien T. Thomas Lecture

    February 8, 2021

    Quinn Capers IV, MD, presented the Vivien T. Thomas Lecture during the STS Annual Meeting. In his lecture, “The Long Shadow of Racism and Racial Bias in the Lack of Diversity,” Dr. Capers discussed the factors that contribute to racial disparities in the medical field. He also outlined specific points when “gatekeepers” such as school counselors and admissions faculty, as well as mentors and role models, can hold the keys to life-changing moments that help shape successful careers. In addition, he presented strategies that are practically applicable, by both institutions and individuals, to combat racial disparities.

    Dr. Capers is the associate dean for faculty diversity and vice chair for diversity and inclusion in the Department of Internal Medicine at The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. 

  • #83: STS 2021: C. Walton Lillehei Lecture

    February 8, 2021

    Paul G. Yock, MD, MA, presented the C. Walton Lillehei Lecture during the STS Annual Meeting. In his lecture, “The (Radically) Changing Landscape of Medical Technology Innovation,” Dr. Yock encourage participants to view innovation as a discipline—one that can be taught, practiced, and recreated. He acknowledged, though, that comprehensive innovation can be difficult in the health care setting because it involves multiple stakeholders. He likened the “user” in this scenario to an “eight-headed monster.” Dr. Yock said that to manage this complexity, the biodesign process should utilize the overarching principles of “identify,” “invent,” and “implement,” which—like design thinking—places the invention step in the middle.

    Dr. Yock is the founder and director of the Stanford Byers Center for Biodesign in California.