September 2016

IMAST Committee Update

Ronald A. Lehman, Jr., MD
IMAST Committee Chair

We have just concluded our highly successful 23rd International Meeting on Advanced Spine Techniques (IMAST) held in Washington, D.C. July 13-16, 2016.  We had over 870 registrants and 570 delegates attend the meeting, and we have already begun to focus on our 24th IMAST meeting to be held in Cape Town, South Africa from July 12-15, 2017. With the help of Henry F. H. Halm, MD, IMAST Co-Chair and local host Robert Dunn, MD, we anticipate an outstanding venue and program.  Cape Town has much to offer in terms of culture and history, with many nearby National landmarks allowing the entire family to enjoy its beauty. We hope that members and their families will attend in record numbers, as it is on many people's “bucket list” of places to visit.

In conjunction with the Program Committee, the IMAST committee reviewed 1,541 abstracts for this past meeting.  We selected 179 four and two-minute podium presentations.  In addition, we had an exciting educational program, featuring symposia on health care reform and safety, and “Novel Technologies and Techniques in Spine Surgery” that were well received. Each abstract was reviewed by 5-7 different reviewers in a blinded fashion and then graded on both an Olympic format (similar to Olympic judging) as well as average grade format.  We found over the past decade that the Olympic format allows for bias to be minimized, and generally results in quality scoring.  Interestingly, half of all abstracts were submitted from outside of North America with half of all presentations presented by international members and delegates.  This has truly become a global Society.

There were 17 Hands-On Workshops (HOWs), and 29 exhibit spaces that were filled by 19 companies.  Many of these HOWs were “standing room only”, and generated some very interesting debates and discussions.  We will continue to expand this aspect of our sponsored, educational component moving forward. 

In addition, Dr. Halm and I reviewed the suggestions and course feedback.  As a result, we have already met with the Presidential Line (PL), and will continue to focus our Educational Program by decreasing the number of concurrent sessions.  While the past several years have allowed us to disseminate a tremendous amount of educational content, some members felt that they “missed out” on all of the opportunities and symposia.  As always, SRS and the IMAST Committee are committed to meeting the needs of our membership.

I would personally like to thank our President, David Polly, Jr., MD, and the other members of the Presidential Line for their support and guidance through this process.  I would like to thank Henry Halm, MD for his assistance and partnership with the endeavor.  Also, the staff at SRS, Ann D’Arienzo, Courtney Kissinger and Tressa Goulding, have been invaluable.

Finally, we owe a debt of gratitude to the IMAST Committee, Program Committee and ad hoc reviewers for their tireless work in assisting with the grading of over 1,500 abstracts.

Chair and Co-Chair:  Ronald A. Lehman, Jr., MD and Henry F. Halm, MD Committee Members:  Christopher I. Shaffrey, MD; Lawrence L. Haber, MD; Jacob M. Buchowski, MD, MS; Justin S. Smith, MD, PhD; Dean Cho, MD; Meric Enercan, MD; Nicholas D. Fletcher, MD; D. Kojo Hamilton, MD, FAANS; Roger K. Owens, MD; Andrew H. Jea, MD; Jeffrey Dean Coe, MD; Yong Hai, MD