Highlights of the STS 54th Annual Meeting

STS News, Spring 2018 -- More than 4,200 people, including more than 2,100 cardiothoracic surgeons and allied health care professionals, gathered in Fort Lauderdale January 27–31 for the STS 54th Annual Meeting. To view meeting photos, program content, and daily editions of the STS Meeting Bulletin, visit sts.org/annual-meeting-archive.


Embracing Failures Serves as a Catalyst to Success

Drawing from both the profession and the sport that he loves, Richard L. Prager, MD encouraged attendees of his Presidential Address at the STS 54th Annual Meeting to “see their realities” and “make seeing and knowledge continuous with each other.”

“Professional innovation is our responsibility, and recognizing we are a creative specialty, I would offer that we—as surgeons—and our professional societies must be the leaders in accountability and transparency. To do so, we must embrace and advance performance measurement and analytics, performance feedback, and performance improvement,” he said.

Dr. Prager’s work with quality improvement initiatives has been his professional calling, according to Keith S. Naunheim, MD, who introduced Dr. Prager. It was therefore fitting that the focus of Dr. Prager’s address was the vital role of performance measurement and feedback in achieving success.

Richard L. Prager, MD highlighted the importance of performance measurement.

Dr. Prager took attendees on a journey of quality improvement initiatives in cardiovascular surgery, highlighting the STS National Database and the Michigan Society of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgeons Quality Collaborative, the latter of which he now directs.

As one example of the Quality Collaborative’s power in improving outcomes, Dr. Prager described an initiative to increase the use of the internal mammary artery in coronary bypass surgery. Its success resulted from identifying rates of use at various sites, offering educational sessions, creating an exclusion form for operating surgeons who chose not to use the internal mammary artery, and providing feedback.

Subsequent Quality Collaborative initiatives were successful in reducing ventilator time, decreasing unnecessary blood transfusions, and identifying when the critical or sentinel thought process or care process occurred leading to a patient’s death.

“Cardiac and thoracic surgeons have a unique opportunity with the data we have from our registries in the United States and worldwide to explore our outcomes and comparative performances, and—with understanding and feedback, discussion, and resetting of approaches and goals—create improvements, knowledge, and benefit for patients and our national health care systems,” he said.

"Accepting performance feedback and looking at our outcomes is as much about our character as our talent or ability as surgeons."

Richard L. Prager, MD

Dr. Prager then reinforced the integral role of performance analysis and feedback for success in the sport he loves: tennis. Through short video clips of interviews with players and coaches, attendees heard how performance measurement, performance feedback style and timing, and personal qualities lead to improvement and success.

Dr. Prager captured the essence of the interviews by noting that cardiothoracic surgeons must embrace their failures, as that is the path to greatness, and should always think about getting better—not winning, but getting better—in order to be successful.

“The commitment of [tennis] players is unwavering and the recognition that performance feedback is essential is understood by every player at every level. Perhaps we can learn from their commitment and approaches,” said Dr. Prager.

“Accepting performance feedback and looking at our outcomes is as much about our character as our talent or ability as surgeons, and as our future tennis stars recognize, there always are ways to improve,” he added. “For all of us, while this may seem to be an aspirational narrative, the mastery of the approach, whether it is a hospital network, an individual hospital, or an individual surgeon, our professional innovation, our seeing, will create success.”


Award Winners Honored

The STS Annual Meeting offered the opportunity to recognize those who are making an impact on the organization and the specialty. The following were honored by the Society in Fort Lauderdale:

Richard L. Prager, MD with Distinguished Service Award winners (from left) Cameron D. Wright, MD, Francis C. Nichols III, MD, and Marshall L. Jacobs, MD

Distinguished Service Award

Distinguished Service Awards recognize those who have made significant and far-reaching contributions to the Society. The 2018 recipients were Marshall L. Jacobs, MD, Francis C. Nichols III, MD, and Cameron D. Wright, MD.

Earl Bakken Scientific Achievement Award

The Earl Bakken Scientific Achievement Award was presented to Robert H. Bartlett, MD, who is best known for developing the lifesaving heart-lung technology known as extracorporeal membrane oxygenation. The Bakken Award honors individuals who have made outstanding scientific contributions that have enhanced the practice of cardiothoracic surgery and patients’ quality of life.

President’s Award

The President’s Award was presented to David D. Odell, MD, MMSc from Northwestern University for his paper, “Significant Variation in Compliance With Lung Cancer Quality Measures Exists Across US Hospitals.” Selected by the STS President, this award recognizes an outstanding scientific abstract by a lead author who is either a resident or a surgeon 5 years or less in practice.

Poster Awards

Adult Cardiac Surgery: Risk Model for In-Hospital Mortality in Aortic Surgery for Ascending Aortic Aneurysm in the United States Using the STS National Database (Makoto Mori, MD)

Cardiothoracic Surgical Education: Preferences in Pathway to Becoming a Cardiothoracic Surgeon: A Survey of Current Cardiothoracic Surgery Residents (Trevor A. Davis)

Congenital Heart Surgery: Aortic Extension to Relieve Pulmonary Artery Compression Following Norwood Palliation (Luke M. Wiggins, MD)

Critical Care: Addressing Diaphragm Dysfunction in Cardiac Surgery Patients: Successful Therapeutic Use with Current Technology and Future Prophylactic Use of Temporary Diaphragm Pacing Utilizing Intramuscular Electrodes (Raymond P. Onders, MD)

General Thoracic Surgery: Fabrication of a 3-Dimensional Bioprinted Tracheal Scaffold with Fibrous Cover and Cartilaginous Regeneration (David Zeltsman, MD)

Quality: Patient-Reported Experience After Cardiac Surgery: Identifying Areas for Improvement (Meghana Helder, MD)


Photo Gallery

View photos from the Annual Meeting, including highlights such as Shark Tank, the Presidential Address by Richard L. Prager, MD, award winners, and popular hands-on STS University courses.


Access STS 54th Annual Meeting Online

STS Annual Meeting Online provides access to more than 100 hours of recorded sessions. Access to Annual Meeting Online was included with Annual Meeting registration. Non-attendees can purchase the online product at sts.org/AMonline.


Annual Meeting by the Numbers
2,149 professional registrants
60 countries represented by registrants. Countries with the most registrants: United States, Japan, Canada, United Kingdom, and Brazil and Germany (tie)
130 exhibiting companies and organizations
226 pieces of bovine and porcine tissue purchased for STS University