Tap into the ‘Power and Depth’ of the STS National Database

STS News, Summer 2018 -- Investigators hoping to gain quick access to the high-quality data available in the STS National Database are in luck—the Society’s Participant User File (PUF) Research Program provides an affordable means of obtaining such data and examining important research questions.

The PUF Program currently offers access to national de-identified data from all four components of the Database—the Adult Cardiac Surgery Database (ACSD), the General Thoracic Surgery Database (GTSD), the Congenital Heart Surgery Database, and—new—the Intermacs Database.

Data are analyzed within investigators’ institutions, and pricing is based upon the volume of data requested. Currently, the program is available exclusively to STS National Database participants.

Since the program’s inception in fall 2016, 52 submissions have been approved, resulting in 10 completed scientific abstracts or manuscripts so far, with many more in process.

Bradley S. Taylor, MD decided to take advantage of the PUF Program because it was an easy and straightforward process. “Once we received the data, we had the abstract written in 2 weeks,” he said.

Dr. Taylor’s abstract, which was presented at the Western Thoracic Surgical Association’s Annual Meeting in June, examined predictors of acute stroke after type A aortic dissection repair. The research used ACSD data on all acute type A aortic dissection repairs performed from July 2011 to July 2017.

“The power and depth of this Database has only begun to be tapped, and the ease of this program and process has been enjoyable,” Dr. Taylor said. “I am impressed with the quality of the paper that we were able to write from our recent experience with the PUF Program.”

“I find this program to be of tremendous value in disseminating scientific information from our most rigorous clinical registry.”

Christina M. Vassileva, MD

Malcolm M. DeCamp, MD had originally submitted a data request application via the STS Access & Publications (A&P) process. Although most A&P projects are funded by the Society, his project was approved with the caveat that his site would have had to cover the cost of analytics by the Duke Clinical Research Institute, which was prohibitive.

When the PUF Program was launched, Dr. DeCamp changed the submission for his project, which required analysis of short-term outcomes for tracheal surgery, utilizing data from the GTSD on all patients aged 18 and older who underwent elective tracheal resection and reconstruction. The resulting abstract was presented at the STS Annual Meeting this past January.

Dr. DeCamp offered advice for surgeons looking to apply to the PUF Program.

“Understand the nuances of the Database—you may need data from different versions, and you’re limited to 30-day outcomes,” he said. “You’ll also need to ensure that you have a good biostatistical collaborator.”

Christina M. Vassileva, MD found that a major advantage of the PUF Program was its speedy process. In her case, it took only a couple of weeks from when she submitted her proposal to when it was approved.

Her research, which also was presented at the STS Annual Meeting in January, explored mitral valve repair versus replacement according to chordal preservation strategy for degenerative mitral valve disease in elderly patients. She used data from the ACSD on patients aged 70 and older who underwent either procedure.

“I find this program to be of tremendous value in disseminating scientific information from our most rigorous clinical registry,” Dr. Vassileva said. “The process ran very efficiently, and scientific feedback was offered to facilitate quality research using STS National Database data.”

Learn more and submit an application at sts.org/puf. If you have questions, contact Robert Habib, Director of the STS Research Center.