SRS
March 2021

President's Message

Muharrem Yazici, MD
SRS President 2020-2021

We are going through very special and tough days. None of us have had a similar experience in our lifetime. Coronavirus can be compared to the Spanish flu in terms of microbiological features, transmission rate, and fatality. But today’s world is very different from that of the 20th century. There is a very tight connection between 7.8 billion people and a mutation that occurs in South Africa can be seen in a corner of Asia within 2-3 days. The British mutation can affect a Latin American country more than the United Kingdom. That is why we have been locked in our homes for over a year, trying to minimize our contact with other people.

This compulsory isolation caused people to turn inside themselves, remember their long-neglected efforts, look at their homes and lives with a more critical eye and make important revisions. For the first time in years irregular record collections, book shelves, and drawers were organized. More time was allocated to learn new skills and increased physical distance encouraged increased virtual proximity.

As a matter of fact, institutions are not that different from people. The pandemic provided an opportunity for a deeper evaluation of the issues that were ignored in the daily rush and remained unevaluated. The restriction of outdoor activities increased the intensity and quality of indoor activities. What was initially seen as a negative situation actually created new opportunities. As SRS, we worked very hard during the time we spent at home with the homework given at the Strategic Planning Meeting we held on the days when COVID was not yet transformed into a pandemic. We reviewed our organizational structure with a critical eye. To resolve the diversities between our members, we are trying to develop more inclusive mechanisms for members of different age and educational backgrounds. We made very important decisions to develop a blended model by making full use of modern educational tools. We will share concrete developments regarding these decisions, starting with this newsletter.

The pandemic will end someday. But that day, the world will be a different world than before. SRS has worked hard and is working hard to adapt itself to the conditions of this “New World”. Until the days when we can meet again (we really want this to happen in St. Louis), I express my deepest regards, hoping to continue stronger from where we left off.

Historian Corner

George H. Thompson, MD
SRS Historian

Did you know that in 1947…

Dr. John H. Moe established the Scoliosis Service at Gillette State Hospital for Crippled Children in response to a need to fill the void in the field of spine deformity care.

And in 1964…

Dr. Moe established a Continuing Education Course on Scoliosis which was offered in the fall. He showed attendees almost all of his cases. With each case he gave attendees his thinking and showed his results, whether they were good or not as good. The course took place in a typical auditorium with less than 40 attendees. On the last day of the course, Dr. David B. Levine suggested that a group should be organized to study scoliosis. Dr. Moe said that if Dr. Levine would write the constitution and bylaws, that he, Dr. Moe would get it started. This was the precursor to the formation of the Scoliosis Research Society.

To learn more about the myriad of spine and SRS related topics dating back to 1911 please visit our Historical Timeline page.

 

Chair: George H. Thompson Committee: Patricia N. Kostial (A); Matthew J. Mermer; Behrooz A. Akbarnia (E); Richard M. Schwend; Jay Shapiro, Historian Elect

AANS-SRS Joint Task Force Update

Praveen Mummaneni, MD
AANS-SRS Joint Task Force Co-Chair (SRS)

For the last several months, individuals from the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS) and Scoliosis Research Society (SRS) have been meeting and discussing ways to better forge a partnership between both our societies, as well as the orthpaedic and neurosurgeon communities as a whole. This effort has been encouraged and prioritized by leaders including Muharrem Yazici, Chris Shaffrey, and Regis Haid. Over the coming years our two societies will work together on a variety of educational offerings that will provide an opportunity for both specialties to learn from each other.

At the SRS Annual Meeting, there will be a Lunchtime Symposium targeting neurosurgeons, which will take place opposite the SRS Business Meeting and will be live broadcasted for those who are unable to join us in person in St. Louis this September. The task force is also actively planning a joint session to take place at the 2022 AANS Annual Meeting.

Several other exciting opportunities are being discussed and I look forward to sharing them with you later this year in our full report.

Obituaries

Aroldo Carlos Legarreta, MD
December 1, 1955 - January 21, 2021

A renowned and highly respected spine surgeon from Buenos Aires, Argentina, Dr. Aroldo Carlos Legarreta, passed at the age of 64 after having battled  COVID-19. This is a truly devastating loss from the 2020 pandemic. He was a great leader and surgeon. Extremely generous, universally loved and gregarious, he was one of the people one would most look forward to run into at scientific meetings all over the world. During his time in practice for more than 25 years, he specialized in pediatric spinal deformity surgery and served as section chief at the Ricardo Gutiérrez Children's Hospital and a spine consultant at Sanatoria Mater Dei. Carlos was a husband to Dr. Maria Nelly Escalada, another fine spine surgeon, and father to Santiago, Maria Paula and Maria Florencia. Carlos was held in high regard in Latin America, and member of the Argentine Society of Pathology of the Vertebral Column where he served as the President from 2007-2008. He was also a proud and active member of North American Spine Society and Scoliosis Research Society. His contributions through treating countless children with spinal deformity and training a legion of South American spine surgeons will never be forgotten.

Michael Francis O'Brien, MD
June 14, 1954 - December 18, 2020

Dr. O'Brien passed away on December 18, 2020. He was born on June 14, 1954 in Hartford Connecticut.

After graduating from Columbia University, Dr. O’Brien completed his medical school and residency at State University of New York at Downstate Brooklyn. He then went on to complete a spine fellowship with Keith Bridwell, MD at Washington University Medical Center in St. Louis Missouri as well as an international spine fellowship with Alan Crockard, FRCS at National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery in London, England and a subsequent Scoliosis Research Society traveling fellowship in 1997.

Dr. O'Brien was passionate about complex pediatric and adult spinal deformity and was extremely active in publication, study group participation, teaching and implant development throughout his remarkable career. His colleagues observed his willingness and excitement to treat patients with complex cases other surgeons often shied away from. Dr. O’Brien’s patients traveled the globe seeking his medical help and left his care knowing his indelibly genuine compassion. In 2006 he founded the Spine Deformity Team, a medical mission in Managua, Nicaragua where he donated his skill and steady hands to improve the lives of those less fortunate. His life exemplified curiosity, creativity, pursuit of perfection and an insatiable restless desire to learn and explore. His zeal for life was evident outside the OR as well, with a love of music, socializing, humor and boundless generosity. He embodied the ideal that anything is possible when you put your mind to it and that the gifts that each of us are graced with are meant to be shared with others.

Michael is survived by his beloved children, Kalin, Connor and Eryrnn, his former wife Leonor Montalvo O’Brien, his wife Heather Bell O’Brien, his parents Elinor and Lawrence O’Brien and his five siblings, Ann Marie O’Brien, Maurenn Fallon, Timothy O’Brien, Patricia Scott, John O’Brien as well as many cousins, nephews, and nieces who loved time spent with him.

Video Memorial Project

The Southwest Scoliosis Institute is asking family, friends and colleagues to share or record videos for a video montage that captures the memories of Dr. Michael O'Brien.

You may record as many videos as you like at the link below. Please be as creative as you would like. If you do not want to be on camera, consider holding a photo of you and Dr. O’Brien or an object that reminds you of him in front of the camera while sharing your thoughts. You can read a letter you've written while holding the camera over the letter. You can play a song that reminds you of him. Get creative to remember the wonderful life of Dr. Mike O’Brien.

  • Link to record video
  • Due date to participate: April 10, 2021

Contact Brittany Banks for more information.

Seymour "Zeke" Zimbler, MD
April 18, 1934 - February 14, 2021

Seymour “Zeke” Zimbler sadly passed away unexpectedly at home on Feb. 14. His resume is a string of superlatives, many unknown because Zeke, humble to a fault, would never mention them. Renamed “Zeke” by a baseball coach who thought it more appropriate than Seymour for a quick handed infielder, he was valedictorian of his high school class and a New Jersey all-state basketball star. Recruited to play at Columbia University he chose the University of Michigan for timing issues. Forced to quit the team when his premed laboratories conflicted with practice, Zeke completed the required studies in 2.5 years, entered medical school at SUNY Upstate Medical Center and graduated AOA. At Syracuse, he met and married Enid, with whom he shared his life. They would have three children: Brian, Andrew, and Taffy. He trained in the Harvard Combined Orthopaedic Program where he was Chief Resident at Boston Children’s Hospital. As a Lieutenant Commander at the U.S. Naval Hospital, Charleston, SC, he was dispatched with a marine unit to the Dominican Republic during civil war and was awarded the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal. Upon return to Boston he was appointed Orthopaedic Surgeon-in-Chief at the Beth Israel Hospital; during his stewardship the department began its affiliation with the Harvard Medical School. In 1970 he was recruited by Dr. Henry Banks to start a pediatric orthopaedic service at Tufts New England Medical Center; he single handedly created a large academic department which included 5 full time pediatric orthopaedists. He was promoted to Clinical Professor and served as Acting Chairman of Orthopaedic Surgery. He later moved to the Massachusetts General Hospital and then ended his career where it began — Boston Children’s Hospital.

Zeke authored numerous publications and delivered many national and international presentations, but his main commitments were to patient care and student and resident education. His kindness, integrity and dedication were legendary. There was no limit to the efforts he would make to insure the best possible care for his patients. Midnight rounds with a flashlight to check circulation, Sunday cast changes and overnight nursing duties when the scheduled nurse failed to appear are some of the endless examples. He was absolutely dedicated to teaching which he did at all hours in a kind and patient manner. All understood he was on their side, and essentially all his trainees will claim he was their most important, inspirational and beloved role model and mentor. For colleagues there was always sage advice. Sitting next to him at a national meeting was a treat; he provided instantaneous, astute analysis and often the “real story” behind the research. The Seymour Zimbler Traveling fellowship was endowed by his many devoted former patients, students and colleagues.

When sharing Zeke stories, patients, trainees, and colleagues who think they had a special relationship with this wonderful, gentle man are bemused to discover that everyone else feels the same. He was a unique, caring individual. Those privileged to have known Zeke will miss him, and will always remember him. We send condolences to his family and thank them for sharing him with us.

Respectfully submitted,
Lawrence Karlin

IMAST Committee Update

David L. Skaggs, MD, MMM
IMAST Committee Chair

All are invited to the 28th International Meeting on Advanced Spine Techniques (IMAST) on April 23-25. IMAST will again be offered virtually in response to the COVID pandemic but in contrast to last year, the IMAST Committee has been able to prepare for a virtual meeting from the beginning of the planning process and take in to consideration your feedback on consuming virtual education. Thusly, we made adjustments to the format and length so that everyone will be able to fit IMAST in to their schedules. We continue to focus on innovation and cutting-edge technology with concepts we hope you will be able to incorporate in to your practice immediately.

Some of those mentioned adjustments to the format include shorter session lengths, a rapid case discussion series, and live educational sessions spanning three days rather than over several weeks as we experimented last year. This IMAST promises to be engaging, relevant, and informative while also providing you time in the day to disconnect from the computer screen.

Of the 589 submitted abstracts, we have chosen the top 100 to showcase at IMAST. The best clinical and basic science research papers will be presented during the prestigious Whitecloud Award-nominated scientific session that opens the meeting on Friday, April 23.

Saturday morning brings you a highly anticipated discussion on “The Bandwagons I Jumped Off” during which some of our preeminent thought leaders reflect on innovative treatments that did not go as they envisioned and share the lessons they learned. There will be six other Instructional Course Lectures on the topics of Minimally Invasive Surgery; Cervical Spine Complications; Robotics, Navigation, and Artificial Intelligence in Pediatric and Adult Patients; Proximal Junctional Kyphosis; and Complications in Vertebral Body Tethering. Be sure to pay special attention to the sessions paired with abstracts for a dynamic delivery of expert opinion and cutting-edge research on the topic.

Other cannot-miss talks will be Jeffrey Gum, MD sharing  his “Most Common Complication Using Robotics” (Session 4B), Larry Lenke, MD reporting on “Why [he] Does Fewer VCRs”(Session 3), and Chris Shaffrey, MD assessing “Novel Techniques for PJK Prevention” (Session 4D).

We have expanded to a “Lightning Case Discussion Series” that covers adult deformity, cervical spine, pediatric spine, and spondylolisthesis during Concurrent Sessions 5A-D on Saturday, April 24. Early career surgeons will look forward to gathering virtually on Sunday for their special session on topics relevant to those just starting in their spine care careers. In addition to all the education and scientific sessions, each day offers the opportunity to interact with our corporate supporters for both live sessions and on-demand videos and workshops hosted on our online meeting platform, in the Industry Modules.

IMAST registration is currently open at www.srs.org/imast2021. Your attendance will ensure you are updated on the most important innovations in spine deformity surgery that have taken place over the past year.

Look for the call for IMAST session proposals in May 2021 for the 2022 meeting in Miami, USA on April 6-9.

 

Chair: David L. Skaggs Committee: Han Jo Kim, Past Chair; Rick C. Sasso; Burt Yaszay; Juan S. Uribe; Ahmet Alanay, Chair Elect; Ilkka J. Helenius; Eric O. Klineberg; Tyler Koski; Brian Hsu; Jean-Charles L Huec; Stefan Parent, Vice Chair; Per D. Trobisch

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Task Force Update

Laurel Blakemore, MD & Serena S. Hu, MD
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Task Force Co-Chairs

At the behest of the 2019-2020 SRS Presidential Line, a request for volunteers to serve on the SRS Diversity Task Force this past fall resulted in nearly 35 members desiring to be involved in this important effort. Although we had to limit the group to a more workable committee size, we expect to keep this enthusiastic group involved as we establish our mission and meet our charges. Our members include: Joseph Osorio, Alaaeldin Azmi Ahmad, Joe Minchew, Lael Luedtke, Qusai Hammouri, Darryll Dykes, Addisu Mesfin, Lauren LaMont, Gabriel Liu, Olavo Letaif.  Past president Paul Sponseller serves as ex-officio member. The charges assigned to our task force are:

  1. Perform an initial audit of SRS programs to assess the current level of diversity
    1. Subsequent audits should be completed to assess the progress being made by the Society
  2. Review SRS policies and processes, for critical deficiencies in diversity and implicit biases.
  3. Recommend changes for implementation by the Society, including timeline for implementation and metrics for success
  4. Identify SRS committees appropriate for implementing the recommended changes (note, that additional committees can be recommended, as well as the extension of the Task Force)
  5. Translate recommendations into charges for the relevant committees
  6. Oversee the implementation of the suggested changes
  7. Summarize for the Membership; creating drive for positive change

After renaming ourselves the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Task Force (DEI), we set out to perform an audit of current levels of diversity across our society, review SRS policies to correct exclusionary wording and implicit biases, as well as gather information to learn best practices to improve our diversity.

Our SRS staff collated data showing the following:

  • Members are 89% male, 5.8% female, with 4.8% not listed
  • Over 45 years old 75%, under 45, 19%
  • Practice: pediatric spine 24%, adult 8%, both 53%, unknown 14%
  • We have representation from 64 countries, and 34% of our members are from outside the US.
  • About 7% of our members are neurosurgeons; less than 4% are researchers. 
  • Committee chairs and committee members have similar representation.
  • Applicants for membership demonstrate slightly more diversity with 71% of applicants being male, 8% being female and 21% not listed.
  • We currently do not collect data for underrepresented minorities (race, sexual orientation etc)

We have reviewed the the SRS Policy book and suggested corrections for more inclusive language. We would also like to collect more complete demographic information from our members, but are evaluating privacy concerns. As diversity, equity and inclusiveness are important areas of attention across multiple areas of our society, members and staff are gathering information to learn what other professional associations have implemented to improve their diversity, equity and inclusion.

We have identified and nominated a DEI Task Force member for elected position in the SRS Fellowship committee. If selected, that member’s participation in both areas will help identify action areas related to that committee’s efforts.

Upcoming efforts include a Podcast for SRS Scoliosis Dialogues as well as submitting an article for Spine Deformity that will discuss how provider diversity relates to health care disparities aimed at raising awareness of this issue.

 

Co-Chairs: Laurel Blakemore; Serena Hu Task Force: Alaaeldin Azmi Ahmad; Alvin Crawford; Daryll Dykes; Qusai Hammouri; Isaac Karikari; Lauren LaMont; Olavo Letaif; Gabriel Liu; Lael Luedtke; Addisu Mesfin; Joseph Minchew; Joseph Osorio

Health Policy Committee Update

Paul T. Rubery, MD
Health Policy Committee Chair

Despite the impact of the COVID pandemic, The Health Policy Committee (HPC) has had a productive year to date, and looks forward to more progress in the coming months. The HPC has found “Zoom” to be helpful and we have had several well attended HPC conference calls supported and organized by Courtney Kissinger from the SRS office. There are three notable projects about which the HPC would like to update the members of the SRS.

First is a multi-year effort that started under the leadership of immediate past HPC Chair, Dr. Pat Cahill. As most SRS Fellows are aware, medical device use in the United States is regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). FDA approval is an important step in bringing new medical devices to market, and this can be a challenging and expensive process. Consequently, manufacturers are unlikely to pursue approval, and potentially unlikely to develop devices, with smaller market opportunities. This particularly impacts pediatric patients and their physicians, and is certainly responsible for slowing or limiting the development of new treatments for rare spinal deformities. The FDA was created by Congress and it is “reauthorized and funded” by an act of Congress every five years. Meaningful changes in the FDA’s policies and procedures are most likely to occur during the congressional reauthorization process. The next reauthorization period is in 2022. As many of the members know, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgery (AAOS) is supported by an office and experienced lobbying team in Washington through the auspices of the American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Under Dr. Cahill’s leadership, the HPC has collaborated with POSNA to advocate to AAOS that the pediatric device regulatory pathway should be a focus of AAOS lobbying in the coming year. HPC members joined a call with AAOS staff, and as of this writing it appears that the AAOS will make this topic one of their key agenda items in the coming legislative year. SRS member John Ratliff, a neurosurgeon, was instrumental in gaining friendly support from the AANS. SRS fellows who are interested in supporting this effort are encouraged to contact Paul Rubery or Pat Cahill for more information. SRS and POSNA are continuing to collaborate on this effort, and are in search of both patient stories and families illustrating the need for reform.

The past decade has seen the globalization of the SRS and its committee structure. Partly as a result of the very “country-specific” nature of the political process, the HPC has remained “US-centric”. The SRS Board and the Presidential Line have asked the HPC to explore ways in which the HPC can begin to support advocacy for spinal deformity patients outside the US. This has been a major focus of our meetings in the last six months. HPC members joined a call with SRS Fellows from Brazil to learn about specific advocacy opportunities there, and came away from the call with a better understanding of the importance of world-wide advocacy, but also with a greater understanding of the complexities involved in advocacy in multiple countries. In a follow-up call, the HPC discussed meaningful steps the SRS can take to globalize our advocacy efforts, and we prepared a list of potential actions which will be reviewed by the Board.

The designation of June as “Scoliosis Awareness Month” in the United States is a traditional effort of the HPC. COVID hampered the effort in 2020, but we hope to recover and expand in 2021. The effort is “state by state”, and is certainly more successful when a state resident petitions their governor. There is a predictable rhythm in politics, and the SRS staff and the HPC have learned that rhythm with regard to Scoliosis Awareness Month. In late March and April, we will start the process of petitioning each state. If you have an interest in supporting the effort in your home state, or if you have a personal connection to state government that could aid in getting exposure for the effort, we would love to have your help! Several SRS Fellows in the past have had patients and families who were interested in supporting this effort, and in some instances, this has resulted in photos with the Governor, a win for the SRS and a thrill for the patient. Please contact Courtney Kissinger at the SRS or Paul Rubery if you want to support this effort.

Thanks to the Committee members and to Courtney Kissinger from the SRS office.

 

Chair: Paul T. Rubery Committee: Patrick J. Cahill, Past Chair; Brian P. Hasley; Pablo J. Diaz Collado (C); Fabio Ferri-de-Barros (C); Amit Jain (C); R. Justin Mistovich (C); Elizabeth P. Norheim (C); William F. Young, Jr. (C); Brian G. Smith, Chair Elect; Daryll C. Dykes; Addisu Mesfin; John P. Lubicky; John K. Ratliff; Joseph P. O'Brien, Advisory; David W. Polly Jr., Advisory; David B. Cohen, Advisory; Jordan Vivian, Liaison

Education Committee Update

Amer Samdani, MD
Education Committee Chair

The Education Committee is tasked with developing educational content for the Annual Meeting, webinars, exploring partnerships with outside organizations, and working with other committees under the umbrella of the Education Council. Following the careful review and selection of submitted proposals that will make up the educational offerings in the Annual Meeting and webinars, the agendas for the 2021 year are nearing completion. We would like to thank all who worked diligently to prepare and submit the numerous excellent proposals received.

Annual Meeting Educational Sessions

We begin the live hybrid (offered in-person and virtual) Annual Meeting with the Pre-Meeting Course on Wednesday, September 22  “Spine is Just the Tip of the Iceberg: Comprehensive Management of the Patient with Spine Deformity and Surgeon.”  This course will highlight the complex spine patient with underlying comorbidities which the spine surgeon must be cognizant of in order to provide optimal care. The planners of this course (myself, Mike Kelly, and Justin Smith) have been working to refine the program and identify our many guest specialty speakers from the St. Louis area.

Following the PMC, we breakout in to the 60-minute Lunchtime Symposia that will discuss:

  • Vertebral Body Tethering: Topics for Debate and Discussion
  • My Worst Complication and How I Dealt with It
  • Artificial Intelligence and Computerized Decision Support Tools

On Thursday afternoon, September 23, Annual Meeting attendees will have the opportunity to attend the Half-Day Courses on topics:

  • Preoperative Planning for Adult Deformity
  • When New Technology in Pediatric Deformity Grows Up: Lessons Learned

We close Thursday’s educational offerings with the increasingly-popular, Early Career Surgeon Session helmed by the Early Career Surgeon Task Force. Early career attendees will have the ability to relax and  discuss challenging cases that arise in early practice and those deemed to be “ordinary” while enjoying snacks and refreshments with other early career attendees and some senior SRS members.

New this year, on Friday, opposite of the SRS Membership Meeting, we have put together a program for Neurosurgeons and those interested in Minimally Invasive Surgery. Our nonmembers can enjoy the special 90-minute Lunchtime Symposia, MIS v Open Deformity Surgery: Case-Based Debates. Those attending the Member Business Meeting can view the MIS session on-demand afterward via the online meeting platform.

In addition to the educational program of the annual meeting, our members will have the opportunity to attend the following regularly scheduled Professional Webinars throughout the remainder of 2021:

  • Scoliosis and Intraspinal Anomalies/Dural Ectasia: Case-Based Debate | March 27
  • PJK Prevention in ASD: How Do We Mitigate Risk? | May 29
  • Sagittal Plane Alignment in Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis: Importance, Planning, Education| July 31
  • Anterior Approaches to the Thoracolumbar Spine: Tricks, Peals, and Complications | August 22
  • Global Outreach and Scoliosis Surgery |October 16
  • Non-Operative Management of the Spine, a Collaboration with SOSORT | November 7

I look forward to seeing or interacting online with many of you at the Annual Meeting in St. Louis this September and to discussing our educational offerings for this year as well as your suggestions and opinions on gaps in our educational program for next year and beyond. Sincere thanks to all that put in extensive hours to bring the program together, in particular Lily Atonio, Suken Shah, and Muharrem Yazici.

 

Chair: Amer F. Samdani Committee: Baron S. Lonner, Past Chair; Ahmet Alanay; Charles E. Johnston; Michael Kelly, Program; Luiz Muller Avila (C); Carlos E. Barsotti (C); Arvindera Ghag (C); Christine Hardsety (C); Ali Humadi (C); Nicolas Plais (C); Stephen W. Hwang; Yong Qiu; Saumyajit Basu, WWC; Steven Hwang, CME; Munish C. Gupta; Stefan Parent; Justin S. Smith, Chair Elect; Mark Erickson; Marissa M. Muccio (A); Ibrahim Obeid

Global Outreach Committee Update

Kota Watanabe, MD, PhD
Global Outreach Committee Chair

The Global Outreach Committee serves as a networking community that provides a platform for exchanging ideas and strategies related to independent outreach programs. The committee also develops and disseminates educational materials to improve these programs. We encourage the active participation of experienced surgeons as well as those who have never experienced an outreach program but are interested in participating in future trips.

We have just launched the “Global Outreach Activity Form” to gather data from sites and clarify the infrastructure and program specifics for each.

Meanwhile, we would like to use the website to collect information about members who are interested in participating in the program, to effectively provide information about the global outreach activities to members interested in the activities.
(https://www.srs.org/forms/global_outreach_members.php)

Based on the data, the committee will provide online information about opportunities for members to get involved with outreach and to share their stories, tips, failures, and unique cases – all of which help build stronger outreach programs to care for patients with spinal conditions.

Although our support for global outreach efforts remain strong, the SRS has no oversight of specific global outreach programs and no longer endorses individual outreach programs.

 

Chair: Kota Watanabe Committee: W. Fred Hess, Chair Elect; Ravi S. Bains; Alejo Vernengo-Lezica; Hamish Deverall (C); Michael J. Heffernan (C); Xu Sun (C); Muralidharan Venkatesan (C); Nan Wu (C); Naveed Yasin (C); Saumyajit Basu, WWC; Daniel J. Hedequist; Kamal N. Ibrahim; Shyam Kishan; Elias C. Papadopoulos; Vidadhara Srinivasa; Michael J. Hartman; Kevin Boon Leong Lim; Mohammed Mostafa Mossaad (E); Dheera Ananthakrishnan, Orthopaedic Link Liason; Bettye A. Wright (E), Ex Officio

Global Education in Spine Deformity Committee Update

Ahmet Alanay, MD
Global Education in Spine Deformity Committee Chair

This committee, formally known as the Worldwide Course Committee has changed its name to the Global Education in Spine Deformity Committee. It has also formalized separate subcommittees consisting of strategic planners for our three course types: Traditional Worldwide Course (WWC/ambassador courses), Current Concepts in Spine Deformity (CCSD/regional courses), and the Spine Deformity Solutions: A Hands-On Course (HOC/Cadaver Courses.)

Since our last newsletter article in March 2020, the pandemic has had an obvious impact on our educational partnerships and endeavors planned for the remainder of last year as well as 2021. If you recall, the pandemic took center stage for the world just before our CCSD in Brazil, March 2020. Our faculty and hosts produced a fantastic educational opportunity for learners in Florianopolis, but it also served as a timely test-run for SRS faculty participating in live education virtually. This serves as SRS’s first hybrid meeting example. In a way, this Brazil CCSD underscores the flexibility these regional courses have to introduce new concepts and formats before incorporating them in other SRS educational activities like virtual IMAST or our upcoming hybrid Annual Meeting later this year.

SRS partnered with the Chinese Scoliosis Research Society in November 2020 for a virtual Worldwide Course that saw record exposure with 8000+ learners over three weeks across many Chinese provinces and neighboring Asian countries. Though we always enjoy the opportunity to learn in-person with our colleagues in China, the virtual space increased educational reach but also faculty participation with reduced travel costs. We look forward to seeing how technology will play in to our ability to connect and communicate for future courses.

After careful deliberation, the committee has decided to reschedule the June Spine Deformity Solutions: A Hands-On Course in Nijmegen, the Netherlands to October 27-29, 2021. The SRS Hands-On Courses are a unique opportunity for participants to expand their knowledge and improve their skills through hands-on training and interactive discussion. We are excited for the Nijmegen Course in October to be the first SRS Hands-On Course of the year.

The CCSD Subcommittee will be working on bringing a virtual CCSD to a global audience later this year in November. It will cover various topics that align with the SRS Core Curriculum and be delivered on the SRS virtual learning platform. Sessions will be open to view in late summer 2021 so that learners can review at a time convenient to them. The course will culminate in a weekend of live sessions focused on engagement through direct question/answer, small case discussion breakouts, and panels. Look for registration to open in the next few months.

Upcoming Courses:

2021

  • June 3-5: WWC | Nizhny Novgorod, Russia with the Russian Association of Spine Surgeons (RASSS)
  • September 16-17: WWC | Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico with the Asociación Mexicana de Cirujanos de Columna (AMCICO)
  • October 27-29: HOC | Nijmegen, Netherlands
  • November: Global CCSD | virtual*
  • November 18-20: HOC | Singapore

2022

  • January: WWC | Patna, India with the Association of Spine Surgeons of India (ASSI)*
  • CCSD | Chile*
  • CCSD | Warsaw, Poland*

2023

  • CCSD | Taiwan*

*Final dates to be determined

The GESD subcommittees will be meeting in the coming weeks and months to confirm 2022 and 2023 planning. If you are interested in bringing a GESD course to your region, please submit an application form at https://www.srs.org/professionals/meetings/wwc.

 

Chair: Ahmet Alanay Chair Elect: Saumyajit Basu
Current Concepts in Spine Deformity Subcommittee: Kota Watanabe, Chair; Kariman Abelin-Genevois; Kenneth Cheung; Pawel Grabala; Ibrahim Obeid; Martin Repko; Andre Andujar; Haemish Crawford; Klane White; Alpaslan Senkoylu, Chair Elect
Hands-On Course Subcommittee: Munish Gupta, Chair; Surin Thanapipatsiri; Gabriel Liu; Gregory Mundis; Haluk Berk, Chair Elect
Traditional Worldwide Course Subcommittee: Saumyajit Basu, Chair; Benny T. Dahl; John A.I. Ferguson; Hossein Mehdian; Timothy S. Oswald (C); Jason Cheung (C); Ratko Yurac; Michael S. Chang; Morio Matsumoto; Chris P. Ames, Chair Elect

Pediatric Device Task Force Update

Patrick J. Cahill, MD
Pediatric Device Task Force Chair

The joint SRS/POSNA Pediatric Device Task Force have several updates. Our main activity is to interface with regulatory bodies with the goal of improving access to new technology and innovations for our pediatric patients. Great progress has been made in this regard.

  • First, we have lobbied the OrthoPAC, the lobbying entity of the AAOS, to adopt the cause of advocating for changes to FDA policies to lower the burden on innovators (industry and surgeons), to the adoption of new devices.
    • In order to get this support, we successfully received approval from the following AAOS bodies:
      • AAOS Office of Government Affairs
      • The AAOS Board of Subspecialties
      • The AAOS Advocacy Committee
    • We now have the resources of the AAOS’ lobbying machine behind our efforts. AAOS lobbyist Jordan Vivian is the point person in Washington leading these efforts. His counterpart with the AAOS staff is Brandy Keys
    • We are actively developing a time line for our legislative action efforts within the next 6 weeks.
    • We have initiated conversations with other entities with lobbying resources to partner in our efforts. These include: NeruoPAC (the PAC of the AANS), CureSMA, AAP, and ADVAMED. Leadership of the FDA are also aware of our efforts although not formally allowed to participate in them.
    • Participation of membership of both societies will be crucial to the efforts. Members can help by recruiting families of patients who have benefitted from recently approved devices who would be willing to share their stories publicly or even in person with congress members and their staff. Pediatric specific devices include: Magec Rods, vertebral tethers, Shilla rods, etc. Stories can be sent to Jordan Vivian at vivian@aaos.org. Please include a brief (~3 sentence summary of the patient story and the patient address {necessary for identifying appropriate elected representative}).
  • The FDA continues to try to find new ways of improving access to device innovation. Their latest effort is entitled the System of Hospitals for Innovation in Pediatric Medical Devices (SHIP-MD) Program. This program will provide infrastructure for collaboration on FDA device trials across 5 or 6 pediatric hospitals. It has been in development for the past year and a half. It was publicly unveiled and discussed with a 3 day virtual public meeting on February 9-11. Recordings are available.
  • Additionally, members of the group continue to build strong relationships with the FDA.
    • Several members of the SRS participated in the FDA’s annual symposium on clinical registries. Not only does this activity build relationships but positions pediatric spine well within AAOS to receive support for a subspecialty registry.
  • The Task Force was approached by the AAOS and AAP to support increased funding for the Pediatric Device Consortia. Adopting this effort is under consideration by SRS leadership.
  • The Task Force has developed a position statement in favor of payors supporting reimbursement for vertebral tether. This statement has been adopted by both POSNA and SRS. Special thanks to Dr. Noelle Larson and Michael Vitale in their efforts with this document.
  • We have developed panels of experts in the various sub-sub-specialties of pediatric orthopedics to assist the FDA in evaluation of applications for new devices. These sub-subspecialties include: pediatric orthopedic oncology, pediatric hand surgery, pediatric orthopedic trauma, pediatric sports medicine, pediatric limb deformity, and pediatric spine. Thank you to all who have agreed to participate on these standing bodies.
  • Planning is underway for the 8th Annual Kids’ Forum in conjunction with the Annual meeting of the AAOS. This forum will occur September 3rd, 2021 in San Diego, CA at 3 PM. This meeting is an opportunity to bring together leadership from industry, the FDA, and academia to discuss hurdles to and brainstorm solutions for access to pediatric devices. Mark your calendars.

 

Chair: Patrick J. Cahill Committee: Behrooz A. Akbarnia; Laurel C. Blakemore; Moyo Kruyt; Richard E. McCarthy; Colin Nnadi; Peter O. Newton; David W. Polly, Jr.; James O. Sanders; Brian D. Snyder; Paul D. Sponseller; Ronald Tangente; Michael G. Vitale

Needs Assessment Task Force Update

Haluk Berk, MD
Needs Assessment Task Force Chair

The goals of the Needs Assessment Task Force (NATF) is to assess and improve SRS members' ability to educate broadly about spine deformity – both to other specialists and by them. Anesthesiology, pulmonary medicine, physiotherapy, intraoperative neuromonitoring would be areas of interest in interdisciplinary education.

NATF group discussed the definition of needs assessment and why SRS needs a needs assessment task force and how to move forward. As a result of online meeting discussions, we decided to set-up a joint pilot webinar with anesthesiology knowing that spine surgeons work closely with anesthesiology so a collaboration on education seems natural.  However, the challenge would be getting a spine-oriented anesthesia society to collaborate or endorse these projects.  

Our group will come up with a webinar soon to initiate the collaboration and hope to establish a sustainable and ongoing product.

 

Chair: Haluk Berk Task Force: Carl-Eric Aubin; Oheneba Boachie-Adjei; Rene Castelein; Kenneth Cheung; Daniel Sciubba; Rajiv Sethi; Dan Sucato

Safety & Value Committee Update

Christopher P. Ames, MD
Safety & Value Committee Chair

The 2020-2021 Safety & Value Committee continues to further develop and refine the core safety checklist project begun under past chair Lloyd Hey. Individual checklist modules will undergo formalized priority weighting to determine the critical versus optional component designations. Once this is formalized and agreed upon by the research council, this will be made available to all members via the SRS website. These checklists can then be customized to the needs and requirements of individual surgeons and sites.

In addition, the Safety & Value Committee has begun a new core project reviewing currently available risk and outcome prediction tools in the adult and pediatric surgical population. The goal will be to determine in a formalized way utilizing user experience survey tools how well existing platforms meet the needs of members and their patients. Hopefully this analysis will provide guidance in SRS research project prioritization, future prediction tool development and their ideal user experiences to facilitate usage by SRS membership.

 

Chair: Christopher P. Ames Committee: Lloyd A. Hey, Past Chair; Sajan K. Hegde; Karen S. Myung; Michael L. Schmitz; Franklin K. Gettys (C); Antonio Hurtado (C); Mark E. Oppenlander (C); Dominick A. Tuason (C); Vijay Yanamadala (C); David W. Gray; Themistocles S. Protopsaltis; Richard M. Schwend; John T. Smith; Michael Glotzbecker, Chair Elect; William Francis Lavelle; Firoz Miyanji; Vikas V. Varma

Treasurer's Report

Serena S. Hu, MD
Treasurer

As is well appreciated, this past year was a challenge for all of us, and for the Scoliosis Research Society as well. The pandemic required a late decision to have our IMAST meeting virtually, which was an untested experience at the time. Instead of full registration fees, we only charged for CME credits; most of the industry support was inapplicable. However, thanks to negotiations by our Executive Director, Ashtin Neuschaefer and her outstanding team, the expenses associated with the meeting reduced by over half. Despite these efforts, IMAST still had a net loss of $277,000. Similarly, as our Annual Meeting was also held virtually; we had a reduced registration fee and less industry support, and again, we negotiated our anticipated expenses down considerably. Fortunately, this resulted in a net income for our Annual meeting of $125,000. Although less than our budgeted net income of $486,000, this was largely due to the reduced revenue from our modest registration fee. Importantly, 896 people registered for our meeting, 859 of whom signed in for the meeting itself.

We had budgeted for a general budget shortfall of $225,000 for 2020, related largely to the transition of moving our IMAST meeting to distribute our major educational offerings during the year. However, through a combination of reduced expenses because we did not have in person meetings, our projected year-end net loss of income over expenses for general funds is $250,000.

However, the Endowment income was significantly greater than budgeted, projected to be $1,664,850 (including unrealized gains) compared to the conservatively budgeted $39,600.00. This resulted in an overall net income projected to be $1,359,134 compared to a budgeted loss of $185,259. Although the stock market took a major dip early last year, its recovery has been strong, so that year end our endowment assets stood at $7,107,900 in Rockefeller and $5,965,585 in Vanguard, for a net gain of 14.3% and 13.9%, respectively.  This keeps us on solid financial footing and gives us reserves for operational deficits such as we suffered during the challenges of this past year.

For 2021, we continue to plan for various contingencies, including a hybrid in-person and virtual Annual Meeting in St. Louis. This too, will be a new experience; we hope the pandemic risks diminish, but recognize that local and institutional restrictions may vary. Given the ongoing travel and meeting constraints, several of our Current Concepts and Hands-On Courses will be rescheduled for future dates, which will save on expenses for this current year. However, reflecting the increasing reliance on on-line communication, both learning, updates and conferences, the SRS Board voted to hire a Senior Communication Manager, which will be a significant investment but hopefully a worthy and integral one.