Gilbert R. Upchurch Jr. MD
Now in its 45th year, the Southern Association for Vascular Surgery (SAVS) continues to be a thriving, robust organization. The SAVS remains the premier regional vascular surgery organization based on the combination of excellent science and great “southern” atmosphere. The attractiveness of our group is reflected in the growing membership; we welcomed 18 new members to the 365 active members in the Association in 2020.
The 2020 Annual Meeting in Palm Beach, FL was a great success, with record attendance of 411. 161 abstracts were received for consideration of 38 oral presentations, likely making this meeting amongst the most competitive ever. It should be no surprise that the SAVS consistently has amongst the highest acceptance rate to the Journal of Vascular Surgery of any regional or national vascular society. As Chair of the program committee, Dr. Adam Beck did an outstanding job in putting together a superior program. Two highlights of the plenary sessions are always the awards for best overall presentation and best trainee paper. The 2020 Founder's award went to Carney Chan from Ochsner Health, for his presentation "Rapid Progression of Carotid Stenosis is Rare in a Large Integrated Healthcare System over an Eight-Year Period." The Timothy String Presidential Award for the best overall presentation at the 2019 Annual Meeting was presented to Tomaz Mesar from Eastern Virginia Medical School for her paper “Type B Aortic Intramural Hematoma: To TEVAR or not to TEVAR?".
The symposium program titled "Current Controversies in Vascular Surgery" was outstanding! Richard Neville, CME Chair, and his committee deserve applause. The format involved a case presentation by an early career vascular surgeon or trainee followed by a pro and con session by leading vascular surgeon experts. The membership has embraced the educational value of a focused conference on important clinical controversies, providing a nice compliment to the peer-reviewed papers later in the meeting. Also to be highlighted was the “Defining the Value of Vascular Surgeons in a Hospital System” moderated by Dr.’s Goldman and Nair. This session brought together vascular surgeons from different backgrounds to help us better understand the importance of vascular surgeons as critical contributors to the “health” of our healthcare systems.
The mock oral examinations were extremely well attended, providing our next generation of vascular surgeons with an invaluable opportunity to hone their clinical decision making (and prepare for the Boards!) as they prepare to enter practice. 35 examinees were questioned by 36 examiners. This core educational opportunity could not be possible without the enthusiastic support of our members who take an extra day off from busy practices to act as examiners. This has become so popular that consideration for expanding this program was discussed during executive session. Organizing this activity is a major undertaking and as always we want to express our gratitude to Recorder David Cull for making it all work. Finally, I’d like to acknowledge the important and sustained support of W.L. Gore for this educational initiative, which turns out to be another “hallmark” of our annual meeting.
Our immediate past president, W. Charles Sternbergh, III, invited SVS Past President Michel S. Makaroun to present the Jesse E Thompson, M.D. Distinguished Guest Lecturer. Dr Makaroun is known internationally for his pioneering work in aortic aneurysm repair. His lecture comparing open and endovascular aortic aneurysm repair really could only be given by Dr Makaroun, especially given his critical position at the interface between vascular surgery and industry trials for over 20 years. He suggested that we need to continue to evaluate honestly the data from clinical trials and that perhaps we have gone too far in terms of trying to make every patient an endovascular candidate. He encouraged us all to retain our open aortic aneurysm repair skills!
Dr Sternbergh’s Presidential address, entitled “Triumph, Tragedy, and the Pursuit of Happiness: A journey of self-awareness” was both reflective and inspiring. I suggest that if you were not present (or even if you were), you view his message again on our website or read it in the Journal of Vascular Surgery. It took courage to touch upon some of the subjects Chip discussed in his address. It ranks at the top of Presidential addresses I have ever seen.
Will Jordan continues to do an excellent job as the Association's Secretary-Treasurer. Will, as Secretary-Treasurer is the heart and soul of the SAVS and he has worked hard to make our Association more diverse. Well understood by the executive council, but perhaps less so by the general membership, is the central importance (and considerable work demanded) of this 5-year position in the SAVS. The Secretary-Treasurer provides the institutional memory and the steady guiding hand for our Association. Next time you see Will, thank him for his service to the SAVS.
Pivoting finally to our 2021 meeting, please mark your calendars for January 27-30 at The Westin Kierland in Scottsdale, AZ. This is a lovely property that will not disappoint. With a room rate of $319 be sure to make your hotel reservations early as you know as our block will fill quickly. Don't miss out.
It remains an immense honor to be your 44th president. Like so many of you, this is my favorite Annual meeting. I especially look forward to seeing you in Scottsdale as the world begins to open up post-COVID.
Gilbert R. Upchurch Jr., MD