2022 AANS Annual Scientific Meeting Brings Together Neurosurgeons from More Than 60 Countries.
After a great deal of diligence, dedication and fortitude throughout the last three years, the neurosurgical community finally reunited in person for the 2022 American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS) Annual Scientific Meeting in culturally dense and historic Philadelphia, April 29-May 2, 2022.
This year, the 90th AANS Annual Scientific Meeting, dubbed The Culture of Neurosurgery, was held at the Pennsylvania Convention Center over a long weekend, which enabled attendees to spend less time away from their practice and patients, while still allowing ample time to attend scientific sessions, plenary sessions, lectures and discussions, as well as network and catch up with colleagues.
As the Nation’s first capital, the City of Brotherly Love was chock-full of iconic landmarks and vibrant cultural experiences for attendees who ventured out, which supported the meeting’s theme. A few highlights included the Jill Physick House, Barnes Foundation Museum, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, National Constitution Center, ONE North Broad and Reading Terminal. Inside the convention center, authorities in the worlds of music, journalism, art and science shared their cultural experiences, philosophies and lessons learned.
The AANS annual meeting is the largest gathering of neurosurgeons in the Nation, with an emphasis on the field’s latest research and technological advances. Neurosurgeons, as well as neurosurgical residents, medical students, nurses, clinical specialists, physician assistants, allied health professionals and other medical professionals, joined together and immersed themselves in the incredible developments taking place within the field of neurosurgery. More than 3,700 medical professionals and industry representatives attended the conference. From around the globe, more than 200 neurosurgical professionals traveled from outside the United States and Canada to attend the event in person, representing 63 countries around the world, including South Africa, Nigeria, Egypt, Morocco, Ghana, Germany, Brazil, Austria, Columbia, Italy, Spain, Turkey and many more. In addition to those that attended in person, 15 countries were represented virtually, including Taiwan, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, India and Australia and others.
AANS leaders warmly welcomed transnational guests on Thursday with an International Symposium that spilled over into mid-Friday afternoon with scientific sessions presented by visitors from around the globe. The opening session was kicked off with a welcome message from session moderator Kenan Arnautovic, MD, FAANS, chair, AANS International Program
Committee and coordinator of committees, World Federation of Neurological Societies (WFNS). The opening session continued with additional remarks from Nelson M. Oyesiku, MD, FAANS, WFNS President (2022); Andreas K. Demetriades, MD, European Association of Neurological Societies President; Nasser El-Ghandour, MD, IFAANS, Continental African Association of Neurological Societies, and Anthony Graham Fieggen, MD, IFAANS, WFNS Congress President (2023). The symposium continued with intriguing sessions followed by engaging case discussions, covering topics such as pediatric, neurotrauma, tumor, spine, cerebrovascular and stereotactic and functional.
Intercontinental happenings endured over the weekend with the International Reception, which took place at the National Constitution Center Saturday, and was complimentary to all international medical attendees. The National Constitution Center in Philadelphia brings together people of all ages and perspectives, across America and around the world, to learn about, debate and celebrate the greatest vision of human freedom in history, the U.S. Constitution. Guests joined international neurosurgical leaders, AANS leadership and special dignitaries for the special event.
Many awards were presented throughout the weekend to deserving and influential neurosurgical professionals, including the AANS International Lifetime Recognition Award, which was received by Asdrubal Falavigna, MD, PhD, IFAANS. This award recognizes an international neurosurgeon or other international dignitary for his or her lifetime of contributions to advancing the field of neurosurgery in a country outside the United States and Canada. Dr. Falavigna has served as a professor of neurosurgery at the University of Caxias do Sul since 1997. He is currently the vice-president at the University of Caxias do Sul and has been the president of the school’s publishing house since 2020. Dr. Falavigna has also been the international liaison of the AANS and Congress of Neurological Surgeons Section on Disorders of the Spine and Peripheral Nerves since 2016.
In addition to the International Symposium, Thursday also offered the Heros Symposium and the Sonntag Symposium, with corresponding dinners. The Heros Symposium, with honored guest and speaker Roberto C. Heros, MD, FAANS(L), assembled neurosurgical experts in the realm of cerebrovascular, brain tumor and skull base surgery. The faculty represented senior experts, who discussed mentorship, leadership, technical pearls, complication management and lessons learned, spanning decades of patient care experience and knowledge. It also featured younger, highly experienced surgeons, who presented cutting-edge technologies.
Friends and colleagues gathered at dinner to celebrate Dr. Heros’ legacy as a surgeon, educator, researcher and leader. Net proceeds from the dinner benefited the Roberto C. Heros Honor Your Mentor Fund established to support clinical or bench research by a neurosurgical resident,awarded purely on scientific merit, on any topic as coordinated through the Neurosurgery Research & Education Foundation (NREF).
The Sonntag Symposium assembled international experts, both neurosurgical and orthopaedic, in the realm of spinal surgery. The faculty represented senior experts, who discussed mentorship, leadership, technical pearls, complication management and lessons learned spanning four decades of patient care. The symposium also featured younger surgeons, presenting cutting edge technologies including minimally invasive, navigation and robotics.
That same evening, colleagues joined for a dinner honoring Volker Sonntag, MD, FAANS(L) at the conclusion of the Sonntag Symposium. Friends and associates gathered to share their memories of Dr. Sonntag and the various roles he’s played in advancing neurosurgery. The net proceeds from the dinner will benefit the Volker K. H. Sonntag Honor Your Mentor Fund established to support outcome studies, clinical or basic science research and fellowships in spine as coordinated through the NREF.
The greatly anticipated meeting opened Friday with an inspirational Opening Session including football legend and NFL Hall of Famer Jerome Bettis and Michael Bush, CEO of Great Place to Work, who were interviewed by AANS President Regis W. Haid, MD, FAANS and AANS Diversity Committee Chair Aviva Abosch, MD, PhD, FAANS. Attendees were moved by captivating talks from several other featured speakers including Peggy Noonan, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for the Wall Street Journal; Esther Duflo, 2019 Nobel Prize Recipient in Economics and Lisa Wainwright, former dean of faculty and vice president of Academic Affairs at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Those in attendance were also treated to a performance and interview with Yo-Yo Ma, Grammy Award-winning cellist, founder and artistic director for the Silk Road Project, a nonprofit artistic, cultural and educational organization founded in 1998 by Ma to promote innovation and learning through the arts.
Later that evening, the Opening Reception was lively as colleagues enjoyed an evening of cocktails, hors d’oeuvres and live music from the Neurosurgery Jazz Quintet in the exhibit hall. The reception was the perfect chance to reconnect in-person with colleagues, as well as an opportunity to see the latest technology up-close and try out the new equipment.
“The neurosurgical community came together in Philly for the first in-person meeting since 2019, and it was well overdue. During the four-day event, we imparted our wisdom with each other by examining our mistakes and shared lessons learned to help our colleagues do better in treating future patients, which is exactly what this annual meeting is about,” says Dr. Haid, who gave an inspiring presidential address Saturday morning.
Pointing to the theme of culture during his speech, Dr. Haid said, “I have been involved in a lot of organizations, sports teams, families, neurosurgical departments, and the one thing that isimportant, is culture. There is good culture, success; there is bad culture, failure…..Culture is crucial for how we, as a global society, interface within ourselves. We all know right now there are great needs in our world, there are great needs in our country for improved culture.”
Outside of the exemplary plenary and educational sessions, AANS offered community sessions. These new-this-year sessions, which took place Monday, offered groups of attendees an opportunity to share their ideas on specific topics in a small group environment. The synergistic sessions brought about remarkable discussions and engagement from the small community groups.
“It was refreshing to experience genuine face time with colleagues from around the globe and reconnect on a personal and professional level,” says Mike Wang, MD, FAANS, AANS Scientific Subcommittee chair and symposium speaker. “The convention center hallways were lined with attendees, friends and associates catching up with each other and the scientific sessions were filled with lectures that were inspiring, insightful, and of course, informational.”
The exhibit hall showcased more than 100 companies featuring the latest technology in neurosurgery, as well as Lunch and Learn opportunities, a Surgical Suite and the new-this-year AANS Neuro Hub where all AANS entities were showcased including the NREF, the Journal of Neurosurgery and the NeuroPoint Alliance (NPA).
“The exhibit floor was overflowing with new, cutting-edge technologies that will help neurosurgeons improve how we serve our patients and deliver the best of care,” says Adam Arthur, MD-MPH, FAANS, 2022 AANS Annual Meeting Committee chair. “It was a massive unveiling of surgical tools, machines, imaging systems, Virtual Reality devices, robotic microscopes, artificial cervical discs and much more after several years of cancelled and virtually-held events.”
Neurosurgeons play an active role in patient health and lead the way as advocates for their patients and the healthcare industry, which is why the 2022-2023 AANS President Ann R. Stroink, MD, FAANS, has selected Neurosurgeons as Advocates as the theme for the 2023 AANS Annual Scientific Meeting, April 21-24 in Los Angeles. AANS will welcome the Federación Latinoamericana de Sociedades de Neurocirugía and the Asian Australasian Society of Neurological Surgeons as collaborating societies at the 2023 meeting.
The AANS and its leadership would like to sincerely thank all of the attendees, exhibitors, presenters, panelists, moderators, special guests and speakers for their support in continuing to make the AANS Annual Scientific Meeting the largest gathering of neurosurgeons in the Nation and look forward to seeing you in L.A. next spring.
Figures: Regis Haid, AANS Immediate Past President, and leaders at the AANS Annual Meeting.
Figures: Regis Haid, AANS Immediate Past President, and leaders at the AANS Annual Meeting.
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