What You Missed At The Association of Extremity Nerve Surgeons (AENS) Meeting

Stephen Barrett DPM FACFAS

I recently had a great dinner in Fort Worth, Texas with 20 individuals, most of whom hold an extreme passion for lower extremity peripheral nerve surgery. There were also a few whose “seed for nerve passion” was just planted. It is always great to have a mix of weathered peripheral nerve veterans with excited neophytes because they ask fresh questions.

Most of my dinner companions were well-trained, experienced peripheral nerve surgeons. Several were colleagues who are experienced. There were also some very well respected podiatric surgeons who were students at the 2010 Association of Extremity Nerve Surgeons (AENS) Fundamental Cadaveric Surgical Skills Three-Day Workshop. An advanced cadaveric skills training session followed this workshop and was attended by even more experienced peripheral nerve surgeons. The AENS annual meeting followed.

These newly attending surgeons wanted to explore a whole new world of pathology and treatment, and stack one or more of their variables in their favor for the previously discussed podiatric surgical equation below.

Surgical Outcome = ∑[(AD + PE) * (SCλ +POM)]*Pt.E

1. AD= accurate diagnosis
2. PE= patient education
3. SCλ=surgical competence times lambda, which is a coefficient of experience and training
4. POM= postoperative management
5. Pt.E= patient expectations

With great robust red wines being poured, most surgeons at the dinner table underwent the usual process of cerebral “neurolysis.” During the uninhibited discussion, they provided candid and frank answers to some of the skeptical (but good) questions proffered by the new “students.” One of those “students” was Thomas Roukis, DPM, PhD, FACFAS, whom I consider a major thought leader, excellent surgeon and researcher in our profession. He asked very good, pointed questions.

How A Meeting Of The Minds Led To The AENS

So how did we get to this point in our recent history? Well, the AENS began when I impulsively assembled a group of six or eight surgeons who were taking the lower extremity peripheral nerve surgery three-day workshop, run by A. Lee Dellon, MD, in a small conference room at a hotel in Baltimore after the first day of didactic lectures.

Those guys were fired up that night, just as I was when I went through the course. All those gentlemen were animated in their discussions about how much they were learning and how it was going to change many of their patients’ lives. I almost got sunburned in that small room by all of the mental “light bulbs” that were turning on. I knew this was the time to spring on them like the hungry leopard.

Little did I know that this spontaneous assembly would lead to the AENS meeting I just attended. This year’s annual AENS meeting had approximately 70 attendees and the speakers were all excellent. Ian Carroll, MD, who is a professor and pain management specialist from Stanford University, gave the keynote lecture. His lecture was an epiphany for many of those attending. I had the fortune to hear him speak last spring. However, you can never hear his stuff too many times and I am going to implore him to promise to come back next year.

This year’s meeting exceeded my CME expectations and the number of things of clinical applicability that I learned. In the process, I saw old friends and made many new ones. Also, as with every experience I have with this group, I have or will have patients who are going to have a better quality of life because of this experience.

Peter Bregman, DPM, our current AENS President, lectured last summer at our AENS meeting on, as he put it, the “thinking man’s” understanding of peripheral nerve. I have to ask all of you “thinking people,” how can you not come to next year’s cadaver training course and annual AENS meeting. The three-day Cadaver Course is Nov. 2-4, 2011, followed by the AENS Annual Symposium Nov. 4-6.

Do you really know everything there is to know about peripheral nerve? None of our members would say they do. If you are a thinking person, you are registering a big “yeah, that’s right” on that cortical billboard of yours.

To put a little more icing on the neural cake, we are going to have an educational track that will even supersede this year’s incredible meeting. There will be hands on, real deal stuff, which you simply cannot afford to miss. Join the AENS association now and get all the resources which are available on our website at www.aens.us . Get the information about the mission trips to Ecuador, which are lead by James Wilton, DPM, a prodigious producer of peripheral nerve profundity. Simply make the commitment now to elevate the level of care you can bring to your patients. It will not only change their lives but yours as well.

In closing, I have to thank a very special lady who works tirelessly to run our organization and made this meeting spectacular. Thank you Krista Richter. What you do is amazing.

There are also many who need to be acknowledged for their immense contributions to this organization and meeting. I am sure I will forget a couple so I apologize now in advance. Kudos to Jim Anderson, DPM, Peter Bregman, DPM, Damien Dauphinee, DPM, James Wilton, DPM, Scott Nickerson, MD, Robert Parker, DPM, Ralph Purcell, MD, Rick Jacoby, DPM, W. Jay Ericson, MD, Eric Williams, MD, Sonny and David from Medtronic, Incorporated, BAKO Podiatric Pathology, Peyman Elison, DPM, and all the other docs, vendors and people who came and made this meeting tremendous. Thank you all.

See you in Vegas at the next AENS meeting. For more info on the meeting, visit www.aens.us .

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