A Hidden Gem

Reporters at Elsevier Global Medical News cover a whole lot of medical meetings–in fact, we’ll cover about about 400 this year. We cover all the big ones–the ASCOs, the ADAs, the RSNAs–same as everyone else. But we also cover many small, unheralded meetings. In fact, I’m the only reporter at most of the meetings I attend. I’ve written about this before, here and here, even developing a list of Excellent but Little Known Medical Conferences.

Well, I’ve found a new gem of a medical meeting, and I’m there right now. It’s the WTSA Bannerannual meeting of the Western Thoracic Surgical Association, and once again I’m the only reporter in the room with a couple of hundred leading thoracic surgeons.

The content of this meeting is almost all meat, with very little fat. Virtually every talk reveals the results of a new study, most of which are both important and newsworthy. None of the talks are broad, such as “The History and Future of CABG.”  All of the talks target very specific topics. Here are two examples, which I’ll be writing about in coming days.

One study looked at how long patients survive after lung transplant and asked the question: Do the patients who receive lungs even though they have low “lung allocation scores” actually survive longer after receiving the transplant than if they had stayed on the waiting list? It turns out, counterintuitively, that on average they would have lived longer if they had not received the transplant, although possibly with a worse quality of life.

Another study examined an interesting dilemma. Thoracic surgeons have become so good at saving infants and young children with congenital heart disease, that more and more of them are living into adulthood. But when they need additional treatment as adults, it turns out that they tend to do worse when they’re operated on by thoracic surgeons with lots of experience with adult heart disease, and better when a specialist in surgery for pediatric congenital heart disease performs the operation.

Those are just two of the little golden nuggets I’ve found in this hidden gem of a meeting. Journalists tend to be pack animals, but I’m happy to work for an organization that doesn’t always travel with the pack.

—Bob Finn
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Filed under Cardiovascular Medicine, IMNG, Internal Medicine, Pediatrics, Pulmonary Diseases and Sleep Medicine, Surgery, Thoracic Surgery

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