October 2, 2017
3 min read

STS News, Fall 2017 -- A series of hurricanes, an earthquake, and an airline pilot strike didn’t stop more than 230 people representing 23 countries from attending the STS/EACTS Latin America Cardiovascular Surgery Conference in Cartagena, Colombia, September 21-22.

“Surgeons came from all over Latin America—Mexico, Paraguay, Costa Rica, Panama, Brazil—and for the first time, they actually felt that they had a forum where they could participate and feel important,” said Juan P. Umana, MD, from Bogota, Colombia, who directed the program along with Jose Luis Pomar, MD, PhD, from Barcelona, Spain, Vinod H. Thourani, MD, from Washington, DC, and Joseph E. Bavaria, MD, from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Surgeons also traveled from Europe, the United States, and Canada to participate.

The STS/EACTS Latin America Conference featured a faculty of experts from three continents.

“Everyone was extremely happy and said it felt like they were at an international meeting—not a local meeting in Colombia,” explained Dr. Pomar, who is an EACTS past president.

The 2-day conference was packed with invited talks, scientific abstract presentations, and videos on a wide range of topics, including valve disease, heart failure, atrial fibrillation, and quality improvement in cardiac surgery.

In addition to the enthusiastic feedback received from surgeons who have been in practice for many years, Dr. Thourani said the conference also was incredibly important for trainees. “Every resident I talked to loved it. They don’t always have opportunities to attend meetings in the US,” he said. “This conference not only allowed them to participate in an international meeting, but it also allowed them to have one-on-one interactions with luminaries in the specialty. That’s huge.”

The Thoracic Surgery Foundation offered 25 scholarships to attend the conference. This photo depicts seven of the scholars.

For some of the trainees, it was their first exposure to how data and papers are presented at international medical meetings. For experienced surgeons, the quality of the data presented, as well as the lessons learned from quality improvement projects, had them asking for more.

“Paraphrasing Nestor Sandoval from Bogota: Once you get involved in data-driven quality improvement projects, it’s like an addiction,” said Dr. Bavaria, STS Immediate Past President. “We had an incredible session on the STS National Database and regional outcomes initiatives. We want to provide more opportunities for our colleagues worldwide to participate in registries and share information from their own quality improvement projects. This meeting provides that forum.”

With the first STS/EACTS Latin America meeting completed, the four program directors are already starting to plan the next conference. Stay tuned for details.

To see photos from the meeting, go to the STS Flickr album at www.sts.org/LatinAmericaPhotos.