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By Vanessa Salvia


This year’s American College of Phlebology Annual Congress, the 32nd, promises to be the most comprehensive yet. Planners have incorporated an important international perspective, refocused established events and added new events to help turn this into one of the most well-attended and important meetings of the year.

More than 1,000 will descend on the Nashville’s Gaylord Opryland Resort and Hotel Nov. 8 for four days of educational content, exhibit hall demonstrations, events and society gatherings.

All four days are packed with sessions, society events and activities including past favorites like the ACP Foundation Silent Auction and ACPF Annual Fun Run and Walk, as well as new events. “Raise Your Glass,” an ACPF toast, closes out the day’s sessions on Thursday and Friday, and the Venous and Lymphatic Village on Sunday represents a big change to the format of the Congress.


Kathleen Gibson, MD, a vascular surgeon with Lake Washington Vascular in Washington State, organized the village, which she says is like a science fair for grownups. “We will have distinct areas devoted to different venous and lymphatic conditions, which we’re calling neighborhoods.”

Different tables will cover chronic venous obstruction, compression and wound care, lymphedema, NTNT, pelvic venous reflux, sclerotherapy, superficial vein treatment and thrombosis. At each table, registered vascular technologists and company representatives will be on hand to provide expertise on devices and products–but not for a sales pitch.

“It’s for industry experts to explain how the device was developed, how it works, how it was tested,” Dr. Gibson says. “We want industry to give the backstory about their products and provide an opportunity for hands-on experiences with the products, with no lectures.”



ACP Congress Program Chair Stephen Daugherty, MD, FACS, FACPh, RVT, RPhS, a vascular surgeon at VeinCare Centers of Tennessee in Clarksville, Tennessee, has served on the ACP Board for the last six years. He says the ACP Congress is one of the most comprehensive and best attended meetings in the world and the improvements this year just make it better. “This is the largest annual meeting devoted to venous and lymphatic disorders in the world,” he says, “and we’ve continued to make tremendous improvement in the quality and the content of the speakers.”

One important change is an increased international focus. This year, the presentations on superficial venous, deep venous and general sessions will offer simultaneous translation services in Spanish and English.

In year’s past, the Thursday “pre-Congress day” was perceived to be geared toward beginners. In a noteworthy change, the organizers decided to devote the entire meeting from Thursday through its end on Sunday at noon to education appropriate for all levels of physicians and allied health therapists who are involved with the care of venous and lymphatic disorders. “So beginning last year we started covering multiple levels of expertise through the entire meeting and we’ve done that this time as well,” says Dr. Daugherty.

Over a period of a few years, the Congress will thoroughly cover all of the items that are recognized as important in the curriculum that is specified by the American Board of Venous & Lymphatic Medicine. “We are covering a large amount at this meeting and each year for several years we’ll have some overlap but we’re putting in additional efforts to educate on a wide variety of things,” he says.



Dr. Daugherty says an abstract committee carefully selected from a record number of 96 abstracts submitted for this Congress. “We have beefed up the time that we’re devoting to abstracts for scientific presentations,” he says. “There’s a lot more interest among those who do science who want to present at our meetings.”

The majority of the abstracts are about applications based on and results of studies that have been undertaken in a clinical setting. “The scientific sessions are more robust,” he says.



On Thursday, the welcome speaker is Sen. Mark Green, MD, who served as the flight surgeon for the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment. After retiring from the military, Sen. Green founded Align MD, a hospital emergency department management staffing company, and Two Rivers Medical Foundation, which operates a free medical clinic in Memphis, Tennessee, and provides healthcare throughout the world via medical mission trips. Sen. Green has served in the Tennessee State Senate since 2012 and is running for the U.S. House of Representatives in 2018.

Friday’s keynote address will be given by Juan Schaening, MD and the executive contractor medical director for Medicare Jurisdiction N. “As the medical director for the Florida Medicare Contractor, Dr. Schaening will be sharing some of their perspectives on how they see venous and lymphatic disease being treated and billed.

“We’re working to build relationships with the payers so we want to help them see we’re serious about high quality medical care and we’re also serious about helping them through developing medical policy to identify outliers. We have an opportunity to help the payers with the science and medicine behind medical policy so that they can figure out where there’s misutilization and overutilization so that the funds can be there for people that really need care.”

The Friday session called Improving Wisely will be given by Martin Makary, MD, MPH, who currently serves as the executive director of Improving Wisely, a national project funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to reduce unnecessary care and lower health care costs. Dr. Makary is a surgical oncologist and chief of the Johns Hopkins Islet Transplant Center. Improving Wisely launched in 2012 as Choosing Wisely, a program designed to reduce the use of unnecessary tests and treatments in U.S. healthcare. Dr. Makary is the New York Times bestselling author of “Unaccountable,” a book about transparency in health care which was turned into the TV series “The Resident.”

Another important Friday presentation on the effect of obesity on vein disease and long-term results will enhance that day’s quality and advocacy theme. “We will be discussing our venous registry and some of the initial results coming out of that,” says Dr. Daugherty, “but we are also very interested in helping to provide the science behind the treatments that we do. We’ll be looking at where the gaps in knowledge exist and assisting the payers in understanding the best available science so that they can make better decisions about the policy. We’ve never had a session like that at the ACP meetings.”
The 32nd Annual ACP Congress would be remiss if it didn’t allow for some time spent on having fun for a good cause. The ACP Silent Auction has been an attendee favorite for the past 11 years. Attending the auction is entertaining, even if you just donate an item or attend only to watch the proceeds. Either way, expect to see bids on medical devices, services and training, vacation getaways, art, jewelry, sports memorabilia, and more. Bidding will likely exceed the 2017 auction, which raised more than $25,000 to support the important mission of the ACP Foundation. Also new for 2018 is a live auction on Saturday night.

On Saturday, the Congress’s closing celebration will have a steeplechase theme including digital horse racing, live entertainment, dancing and a casino area with proceeds supporting the ACP Foundation. On Thursday and Friday, purchase a special ticket to attend the Raise Your Glass Foundation Toast to close out each day with a special cocktail hour. The evening toasts will each feature a special beverage including bourbon and craft beers. All proceeds support the ACP Foundation’s missions.

If education and advocacy is the primary reason you might be thinking of attending the Congress, there’s plenty of that. “We will have a substantial number of the world’s experts on a lot of the topics that are being covered at the Congress and there’s a lot to learn,” says Dr. Daugherty. “I think this meeting is going to be great. There are a lot of things for the very sophisticated physician and there are a lot of things for the person who is new to venous disorders. We are trying to pull together the lymphatic community. The physicians and therapists interested in lymphatic disorders have not had a strong single organization to be their spokesman and around which to rally their effort. We are that organization now.” VTN

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Larry Storer

Larry Storer

Larry Storer has been editor of Vein Therapy News for 10 years. He has edited computer, shelter and medical publications at Publications & Communications LP for 30 years. He was also a corporate vice president and editorial director before retiring. Larry graduated from Baylor University with a BA in journalism and an MA in communications; and from Lamar University with a MED in school administration. He taught beginning and advanced reporting, beginning and advanced editing and editorial writing at Baylor University. Larry was a reporter, and city and news editor of the Beaumont Journal, and opinion editor at the Beaumont Enterprise and Beaumont Enterprise-Journal. He was also the founding managing editor of the Yuba City (California) Daily Independent-Herald.