The VEINS Symposium Q&A with Dr. Raghu Kolluri

Dr. Raghu Kolluri is an innovator. The VEINS Symposium has quickly become a new Chicago attraction for training cardiologists in phlebology. I asked him how the program came about and what he expects for the future of phlebology training for his specialty.

VM: Tell us about yourself. What is your background and how did you come to get involved in treating veins?

RK: I completed a fellowship in vascular medicine at the Cleveland Clinic after an internal medicine residency at Riverside Methodist Hospital in Columbus, OH. During residency training I was exposed to vascular medicine and I fell in love with the field. My passion forvenous disease began on the first day of my vascular medicine fellowship. I was on call that day and saw several young patients with pulmonary emboli (PE) and deep vein thrombosis (DVT). One patient developed wet gangrene (Phlegmasia Cerulea Dolens) from massive ilio-caval DVT and expired due to further complications. I realized how little internal medicine curriculum focused on venous disease, a condition that can result in devastating consequences in fairly young people. This invigorated my interest in venous disease. I then joined Prairie Cardiovascular and developed a very large acute and chronic venous practice from my vein clinic, thrombosis clinic, wound clinic, and the vascular lab. We then developed a very busy and successful venous practice as a team.

VM: Who were your mentors?

RK: I have lots of mentors. Specifically, Dr. John Bartholomew, the section head of vascular medicine at Cleveland Clinic. He has been my mentor since my fellowship. His passion for patient care is something I strive for. At Prairie Cardiovascular, we have a very close-knit vascular medicine team, and Dr. Greg Mishkel in particular guided me through various aspects of my career.

VM: What made you decide to start The VEINS program?

RK: I was involved in the organizing committees of American College of Cardiology (ACC) and Transcatheter Cardiovascular Therapeutic (TCT). It was quite evident that venous session rooms were the most packed rooms. Most common questions encountered from the audience were, “Where can I go to learn more about venous disease?” and, “Do cardiologists who do venous procedures teach about venous disorders?” Hence, Dr. Mishkel and I decided to start The VEINS meeting. Our primary goal was to develop a “how-to” meeting for cardiovascular physicians, sonographers, mid-levels, and technologists. We also wanted the faculty representative of all specialties involved in venous care. This is how The VEINS was born, with all of our own local resources in Springfield, IL, in 2011.

VM: What do you find are the biggest challenges in educating this specific group?

RK: Although physicians from all specialties attend and are encouraged to attend our meeting, most attendees are cardiologists. Unfortunately, just like in internal medicine, venous disease gets limited attention in cardiology training as well. So, within the constraints of the available time, we had to include basic topics, such as anatomy and physiology, and also cover advanced topics. In 2012, there were several returning attendees at the meeting with better skills and greater knowledge base. The challenge for 2013 for us will
be to cater to the needs of attendees with a wide range of venous experience.

VM: What sets The VEINS apart from other meetings?

RK: Dr. Mishkel and I both envisioned a meeting that is educational but conducted in a fun atmosphere. We created “Curbside Consult,” which is, in fact, one of the assigned faculty responsibilities. Attendees get a chance to meet informally with faculty after every one or two sessions, encouraging one-on-one discussion at an expert level. Attendees get ample opportunity to interact with world experts in venous disease throughout the meeting. This collegial atmosphere has created a significant buzz about our meeting amongst cardiovascular community and our industry partners.

VM: How do you determine what will be covered in the meetings?

RK: As mentioned earlier, we cover every thing from basic anatomy to advanced topics such as complications. Handson learning is integral part of the meeting. Any new science, guidelines, or data are included in our meeting. For example, we were very fortunate to have lead authors of Chest guidelines and the American Heart Association venous thromboembolism (VTE) guidelines—Dr. Toni Comerota and Dr. Michael Jaff—deliver keynote lectures related to these topics in our past meetings. We also try to incorporate requests from attendees and involve attendees into our program. Two attendees started their own venous programs after attending our 2011 meeting. We have invited them to our 2013 meeting to discuss their perspectives. So our meeting will also become a forum in which we can learn from each other.

VM: What did you learn from starting up this program? If you could do anything differently, what would you do and how would it turn out?

RK: I don’t know where to begin. I learned so much. It has been overall a very humbling experience. Our team started planning this meeting in our boardroom. Our first step was to buy the domain name for $10. We used our Prairie IS department, our graphic artist, our research organization PERC, our CME department and our own event planner. We learned about logo creation to advertising to understanding Google analytics to contract negotiations, etc. Dr. Mishkel and I believe that there is an unmet educational need so we dedicated significant amount of our time developing good relationships with our industry colleagues and other not-forprofit entities, without which The VEINS would not have happened or have been successful. We were fortunate to have both the Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Imaging (SCAI) and the Society for Vascular Medicine (SVM) cosponsor our meeting. I can’t think of anything we could have done differently. We will continue to learn and adapt. The meeting program is maturing and so will the audience, and we will continue to grow together and learn from each other.

VM: What can we look forward to at the 2013 meeting?

RK: We will continue the spirit of the meeting—showcase real-world venous practice in a “boutique setting.” However, this year we are moving to a larger venue, the Fairmont in Chicago. This year’s meeting will again include world-class faculty from all specialties. Due to popular demand, we have included cosmetic vein therapy sessions. For new attendees and cardiovascular fellows, we have The VEINS 101 session. All sessions this year will include fast-paced didactics and will end with a 15-minute relevant case presentation followed by discussion and audience participation. Finally, we have outstanding keynote speakers including Dr. Steve Bailey, Dr. Mark Meissner and Dr. Jeffrey Olin. We hope to see the readers of VEIN Magazine in Chicago, September 20–22, 2013. It is going to be fun…please join us!