STS University Participants Gain Hands-On Experience with Complex Procedures

STS University jumpstarted the 2020 Annual Meeting on Saturday by providing physicians of all experience levels with hands-on exposure to the latest techniques and technologies in cardiothoracic surgery. Ten courses were offered, including extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) cannulation—a new addition this year.

“We had participants who were interested in starting their own ECMO program or in bringing their current program up to a new level,” said course director HelenMari Merritt-Genore, DO, from Nebraska Medicine in Omaha.

Participants rotated through four stations—venoarterial ECMO, venovenous ECMO, “Meet Your Pump,” and extracorporeal cardiopulmonary resuscitation—demonstrated by physicians from several different institutions, providing participants with a broad perspective. “It was great to see surgeons and intensivists discussing logistics and sharing ideas,” said Dr. Merritt-Genore.

The Aortic Root Enlargement Procedures and Aortic Valve Leaflet Reconstruction course provided  practice with techniques for complex aortic root procedures. Anthony J. Rousou, MD, from Baystate Cardiac Surgery in Springfield, Massachusetts, said he knew of only one technique for aortic root enlargement before attending the course. Now, he is aware of new solutions for the common challenge of patient-prosthesis mismatch in root enlargement, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of each one.

The Robotic Lobectomy course included more stations than last year, allowing a greater number of participants to practice with robotic systems. Course director Lana Y. Schumacher, MD, from Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, said that surgeons and residents found the course beneficial because it provided an introduction to techniques that can be challenging to master.

“The advantage of robotic-assisted procedures is visualization because it is 10 times greater [than direct visualization] and is in 3D,” she said. “The disadvantage is that there is no tactile feedback. Practice is important to avoid damaging tissue and other complications.”

A simulator helped participants learn more about these potential errors.

In addition to the robotic systems for lobectomy, two different robotic bronchoscopy systems also were included in the course. Robotic bronchoscopy systems were approved by the US Food and Drug Administration within the past year, said course director Edward Y. Chan, MD, from Houston Methodist in Texas. “The two systems are from competing companies, so participants were able to learn about the features of each.”

At the always-popular Mitral Valve Repair course, participants practiced different repair strategies for both anterior and posterior leaflet pathologies. “I came to improve my techniques and broaden my experience,” said Rebecca Dignan, MD, from Liverpool Hospital in Sydney, Australia. “I was able to talk with other surgeons about their methods and learn about newer cords and rings.”

Other courses focused on VATS lobectomy, complex chest wall issues, transcatheter aortic valve replacement, valve-sparing aortic root replacement-reimplantation, minimally invasive aortic and mitral surgery, and transseptal puncture for surgeons.