Q&A with Frank Veith The 38th VEITHsymposium: Conversations in Keeping it Fresh

Dr. Frank Veith has a method for organizing the 5-day, multi-discipline, multi-track program that is the 38th Annual VEITHsymposium. His experience in this type of work spans over four decades culminating in a meeting that features over 400 presentations within 50 sessions. VEIN Magazine asked Dr. Veith about what he’s looking forward to with the upcoming VEITHsymposium, being held again at the Hilton New York, November 16-18.

VM: With all of the experience you have hosting the VEITHsymposium, you must have a system by now. How do you keep it fresh?

FV: My job is to filter it, distill it and then deliver it to the world through experts in the field and I try to make this the go-to meeting for all aspects of venous disease.

Basically, I spend most of my time going to other meetings and listening to what other colleagues tell me is new and exciting. I have acquaintances - leaders in the field - that send me hot topics. I’m not an expert in every area, but I know someone who is and I try to find the best speakers. Every topic is interesting. And I read, of course.

Colleagues who are experts in the endovenous treatment of varicose veins organize that section of the meeting. Those specialists are Lowell Kabnick, MD and Jose Almeida, MD who are “super specialists” – they know everything going on.

I have other super specialists like Bo Ekloff, MD and Mark Meissner, MD , for example, who send me info about what’s going on in the field and I filter it out and put it into the program. I pick the stuff that is going to be fun and exciting.

VM: What are you particularly looking forward to at this next meeting?

FV: One of the things I believe is exciting is the European way of treating massive and sub massive pulmonary emboli – a problem that is starting to be addressed in Europe and here in the US, as it should be. We will talk about interventional methods for dealing with the problem so that it doesn’t involve morbidity and mortality. It is an important and hot topic.

I like to have controversy by having a debate, and the topic this time is the role of stenting for the treatment of DVT and venous disruption. The device companies are producing more specialized stents for venous lesions. There are those who say you should stent everybody with venous insufficiency and those who say you shouldn’t stent any of them. And then there are some new controversies and new techniques for better methods of thrombolysis.

I think in general, we try to put on what’s new and exciting and there’s very little political motivation. We get the best speakers and the people who are doing the most in the field. That’s the theme – get what’s new and exciting, and my job is to find out what that is.

On Friday, there’s new material on venous aneurysms, bioconvertible intra vena cava filter, new information on venous ulceration and the use of IV U.S. for diagnosis and treatment of venous obstruction. We touch on better ways of imaging veins and cather-directed MRV and stuff on venous embryology. We will focus on the controversy about the chronic cerebral spinal venous insufficiency (CC SVI) and Multiple Sclerosis. Paulo Zamboni, MD is one of our speakers, but we have a lot of enthusiasts and a lot of doubters so we are going to let them square off and see where the dust settles. That will take place during the Thursday meeting with interventional radiology.

We will learn more about recannalizing central venous occlusion using radio frequency wires and reviewing data on thrombocomechanical procedures and what they do to vein valves. There is really a lot on getting rid of the clot. There will be people talking about the various guidelines, the FDA guidelines, iliac vein stenting, and strategy for early thrombus removal.

VM: How do you handle the scheduling of all these sessions, debates and talks?

FV: Our meeting is designed to give a complete and current update in everything going on in venous disease. People have recognized what we are trying to do. So many good topics have been submitted. We got somewhere between 1500 and 1600 suggestions for talks, and unfortunately, we can’t accept all of them. This year, I decided to run simultaneous sessions and add in some of these interesting talks.They’re so great - even I want to hear them! That’s basically my criteria.

But one of the disadvantages is that I’ve been forced to have the simultaneous sessions. Our goal is for there to never be more than two simultaneous sessions– although there is one on Friday and a couple on Saturday – but when you add all of this up it is everything important in venous disease treatment.

VM: Someone can’t be in two places at one time - can you pay a little more to get the content online?

FV: We’ve tried to make it so the sessions don’t overlap, but the way we are dealing with it is we are recording the entire meeting. We haven’t increased the registration fee at all, but there is an extra fee for attendees who would like this additional benefit. So those who don’t go to one of the sessions can check out the programs they want to attend while in New York, and then spend their free time listening to the talks online, which are indexed, and it is just like you are there – all for a nominal fee. Those who don’t have the ability to come to the meetings at all will have access for a greater fee, of course, but they will have access to all of the same great information.

The library will provide an online textbook for everything that was presented. Every slide, every word is accessible on the website; what’s on the screen is what was in the meeting. This is perfect and that’s because the huge developments in online technology have allowed us to make the meeting even more of a current update – and the recordings will go up the very next week.

VM: What do you think separates your meeting from others?

FV: I think that what is emblematic and advantageous for our meeting is that we include stuff that is not in the U.S. We feature European and South American speakers and these guys cover the Rotarex device which is not yet in the US (but moving in that direction), and there’s a whole bunch of new stuff. Chris Kwolek, MD is going to talk about a new device to remove big clots. There are lots of devices that Americans don’t know about yet.

In the interests of bringing everyone up to date, we add new and controversial topics to the program. If someone comes to the meeting, they get a real feel for what’s good, bad, baloney and what’s not baloney. They’ll find that the talks are all short, but everyone seems to be able to hit the high points within the 5 ½ minutes they are afforded. This allows for the meeting to keep on time and for easier scheduling – especially if the attendees need to go from one room to another without missing one of the topics. And if they do miss it, it will be online in a week, which is pretty amazing.