Event Preview—The VEITHsymposium

by Curtis Walker

As of November 18, 2008, the VEITHsymposium, an annual meeting dedicated to presenting information that is new and important in the treatment of vascular disease, will be halfway through its fourth decade. A lot of changes have occurred in that time concerning technology, topics covered and treatments discussed, but one thing has always stayed the same: the symposium’s dedication to pointed talk on each subject chosen for focus, open debate on the same and an aggressive approach to staying current.

The VEITHsymposium is set up as a series of short-talk meetings, with world leaders directing discussions on their area of expertise, with emphasis on the latest advances, changes in approach or management and potential controversies. Attendance is usually over 2,000 and in excess of 350 presentations are on the docket for this year’s program. “There is always so much new material appearing, we have to be vigilant in how we process it, and responsible in how it is presented in the meeting,” Frank J. Veith, MD, Founder and Symposium Chairman, says. “One thing we definitely try to stay away from is the rehashing of old material. We have added speakers and shortened the talks recently, which expands the scope of what is covered and increases the benefit of attending the event. In a relatively short period of time, attendees can get updated in a way they can’t at other meetings. Also, the information they want to bring to the table gets in front of people so much faster through the symposium. Textbooks are five years out of date, and refereed journals can be as much as two years out of date. The meeting is timelier; it’s just due to the nature of publishing.”

This year, as it has for the last two years, VEITHsymposium will host a module entitled “Endovenous Management of Varicose Veins.” “That vein component is led by Dr. Jose Almeida,” Veith says. “Vein disease is becoming very important to vascular surgeons. Also this segment draws a lot of attention from interventional radiologists and other specialists.” Almeida and Lowell S. Kabnick, MD will moderate the panel for the discussions, which are set to cover CEAP as well as debates on not enough data from randomized prospective trials relative to fire, foam, heat and knife for varicose veins. According to the symposium’s press kit, the second session on varicose veins will include the role of venous duplex ultrasound and fluoroscopy, foam sclerotherapy (what you should know about this controversial area), and current treatments for venous ulcers.

“As the symposium ages, we try to learn from past meetings and adapt or change things to meet the different needs of the field as well as those of the attendees and their prospective patients,” Veith explains. “For instance, we stopped presenting live cases two years ago, as I didn’t feel that they best served the meeting’s goal. Also, we now offer a digital web-based version of the meeting, which allows people that attended the meeting to review what they experienced, and obviously it affords non-attendees the opportunity to view the presentations as well. I do not think of the electronic package as a substitute for the meeting, however, as you can’t underestimate the value of the discussions that go on in the halls between meetings, or in the pavilion. A lot of the value of the meeting is in that type of interaction and debate. Plus, it does take a while to put together the electronic package, and you lose a little bit of the immediacy of the information. The package takes about a month to have ready for access to the subscribers, but that is a lot better than what we have been able to offer in the past. We used to have a CD-ROM of the meeting available for purchase, but that took six to eight months to prepare, so the new method should be a lot better.” But, Dr. Veith is also quick to point out that the relative quickness on the turnaround of the web-based version of the meeting is not the product’s only strength. “The web version also allows us to measure how many people take a look at it, and what segments they are most interested in, which can help us plan segments for future meetings. Again, the web package is not a suitable substitute for the meeting itself, but we did put a lot of time into its development, and we feel that it is a good accessory to the meeting.”

Addressing the tendency of some meetings to bend towards the commercial, Veith explains, “We want to stay away from being commercially driven. Our meeting has worked for that, and we are at a place where we have gotten industry involvement without the infomercial aspect of it. Because of that and the exchange of ideas that the symposium allows, the meeting is dynamic, and it has become a prestigious place to speak.”

According to Veith, there have been some years where putting on the conference was very difficult financially, and the event even dipped in the red a couple of times. “Above all, no matter the attendance, and no matter the location, my goal is to see that the meeting meets its needs.” VEITHsymposium is set for Wednesday, November 19th through Sunday, November 23rd, at the Hilton New York, 1335 Avenue of the Americas, between 53rd and 54th Streets. For more information on the VEITHsymposium, please visit www.veithsymposium.org.