A 30-Year Member of AAO-HNS Talks About the Latest Meeting

The American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery (AAO-HNS) 2019 Annual Meeting and OTO Experience was held in New Orleans, LA. This annual meeting of the nation’s largest professional association of Otolaryngologists-Head and Neck Surgeons (HNS) had 40% of attendees come from outside of the country. This was the 124th annual meeting and was attended by more than 7,500, including more than 5,000 health care professionals.  

This meeting was the third annual iteration of the new integrated program where attendees could select to listen to expert lecture series, scientific presentations, expert panels, and tour professional scientific and industry exhibits all during over 10 hours that were offered daily. Presentations covered the breadth of the specialty, from general otolaryngology-HNS for the private practitioner, to highly subspecialized subject matter for an academic audience. Socio-economic issues, such as coding, reimbursement, diversity in the training programs and work place, and physician burnout are a sampling of topics addressed over the course of the meeting. This meeting was also notable for its welcoming and accessible content for the physician extender audience that might be interested. This extensive content is also available online to meeting attendees after the meeting through the AAO-HNS website.

Notable content that was highlighted for the attendees benefit included “Best of” and “Late Breaking” abstracts. The “Best of Oral Presentations” as judged by the meeting organizers was a session moderated by Jeremy D. Richmon, MD, Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, Harvard University, Boston, MA. There were 19 oral presentations of a variety of clinical and basic science topics from parathyroid surgery to cochlear implantation to microvascular reconstruction to T cell differentiation.

Late breaking” abstracts were from a group of abstracts submitted that were recently completed and were also selected by the meeting organizers. These included nine presentations covering everything from the range of social issues affecting the match process to using AI for interpreting images. This session was moderated by Rod P. Rezaee, MD, University Case Medical Center of Cleveland, Cleveland OH. Significant content and speakers, as judged by the meeting organizers, was circulated daily in print to the meeting attendees.

The topic I found most compelling was addressed through a panel on “Stopping Opioid Dependency.” Opioid use mitigation is an area that I emphasize in my outpatient endocrine neck surgery practice. I appreciated the panelists’ many useful suggestions to reduce or possibly eliminate routine opioid prescriptions. Bottom line suggestions included pain expectation discussions with patients pre- and post-operatively; pre-operative regional anesthesia; scheduled around-the-clock use of acetaminophen in the acute post-operative period; and addition of anti-inflammatory prescriptions. These tips can be operationalized in patient care pathways, early recovery after anesthesia protocols, or by integration into the electronic medical record systems.

As an almost 30-year member and regular attendee of the AAO-HNS Annual Meeting and OTO Experience, I have benefited from keeping abreast of the “state-of-the-art” of the specialty. Moreover, it has provided too numerous to count opportunities to speak, network, and serve in the world largest medical specialty society and annual event dedicated to care of the otolaryngology-head and neck surgery patient. In my opinion, the meeting once again lived up to its high expectations.

Illustration by Jennifer Bogartz

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