John Scott, MD FASMBS
Immediate Past Chair
The 37th Annual Meeting of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery was held virtually in June 2021 due to travel constraints related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Although ASMBS intends to pivot back to a live format for the 2022 Annual Meeting in Dallas, some of the features many attendees have enjoyed will be preserved, such as the running virtual “chat room.” The ASMBS Program Committee utilized some of the unique features of the virtual platform to find new ways to present information from the latest abstracts, explore new techniques in bariatric surgery, and highlight the diversity of talent and fresh faces within our ranks.
Our three-day meeting kicked off with several surgeon-specific pre-conference courses, including our always-popular “SADI Course: Tips and Tricks for Success,” led by the ubiquitous Dr. Dan Cottam. Other courses included the sessions on the Masters of Revision, Private Practice: Overcoming Challenges, and GERD: New Evidence, Old Operations. The Integrated Health Program Committee also presented a suite of extremely popular courses which covered behavioral health, nutrition, practice management, and pharmacology. As always, the MBSAQIP staff held their robust courses for MBS Coordinators and Reviewers to a packed virtual audience.
The scientific sessions began on day 2. The Top Paper session featured an update from Dr. Anthony Petrick on the Bariatric Surgery Targeting Opioid Prescribing (BSTOP) MBSAQIP national quality improvement project. Other abstracts of note from the session included the “Effect of Bariatric Surgery on Ischemic Stroke Risk” by Dr. Michael Williams and an analysis of long-term outcomes between the duodenal switch and the SADI-S procedures by Dr. Cottam and his team.
The Mason Lecture was a departure from previous lectures, as Dr. Jaime Ponce and the ASMBS utilized the lectureship to memorialize three giants in our field, Nicola Scopinaro, Harvey Sugerman, and Ed Mason, all of whom passed in the past year. Dr. Matt Hutter delivered an excellent Presidential Address highlighting the challenges faced by the ASMBS and its members during the COVID-19 pandemic and then mapping out an optimistic vision for our society moving forward. Through the magic of the internet, the Presidential gavel was instantaneously passed across eight state lines from the desk of Dr. Hutter in Boston, into the hands of incoming ASMBS President Dr. Shanu Kothari in Greenville, South Carolina.
Other highpoints of the second day included the IH Keynote address by Faith Newsome, BA on adolescent surgery. IH President Lisa West-Smith delivered an exceptional Presidential address and then handed the IH reins to Nathaniel Sann. The last session of the day included a rousing speech by Howard University President Dr. Wayne Frederick. The evening concluded with a virtual reception for our ObesityPAC and our ASMBS State Chapters.
Day three was special because it signaled a return to our abstract and video submissions, having been paused last year through the long COVID break. Our Top Video was judged to be “Complications after revision of Rx-en-gastric bypass for intussusception.” by Dr. Pearl Ma. As with all our live meetings, the video sessions were packed to the rafters and continue to be incredibly educational, occasionally humbling, and extremely entertaining. If you have (https://event.asmbsmeeting.com/s/agenda62/home), check out the IH sessions, which covered a variety of topics including issues with the bariatric athlete, substance use, and the effect of COVID-19 on bariatric patients.
No ASMBS meeting is finalized without an AfterDark celebration, and many participants valiantly attempted to virtually replicate that spirit of community and collectiveness during our First Annual Awards Show and Social hour. Here we had the opportunity to distribute some real awards, like the Halverson Young Researcher award to Dr. Sean O’Neill for “An analysis of readmission trends by urgency and race/ethnicity in the MBSAQIP Registry.” We also distributed our new “Razzie” awards to our more entertaining virtual participants (here’s looking at you: Shaina Eckhouse’s dog, Carl Pesta’s bowtie, and Ann Rogers’s comebacks).
There is no doubt that the shift to a virtual meeting had its challenges, but enduring lessons from the endeavor will be beneficial and the AMSBS Program Committee is looking forward to our next great adventures in 2022!