Thoracic surgery and the STS database

a discussion of the Thoracic Surgery database, the Society of Thoracic Surgeons and the upcoming STS conference in Atlanta, Georgia. A call for participants in the Thoracic Surgery database.

Next week (October 13 – 15th, 2011) is the annual STS database conference, Advances in Quality and Outcomes held in Atlanta, Georgia this year.  In advance of this event, we are discussing the STS Thoracic Surgery database.

The STS database is a massive undertaking by the Society of Thoracic Surgeons which compiles and reports surgical outcomes on thousands of surgeons and surgical programs.  This information is published, and is used to rate surgical programs nationally.  The pinnacle of these results is the three star rating.

The cardiac arm of the STS database is more well-known than the general thoracic portion of the database, which began in 2003.  While this cardiac data is reported nationally, it is contributed by STS members worldwide.  Participation is voluntary, and members pay to participate in the database.  Now, the STS is planning on opening up the General Thoracic arm of the database to international participants (in just a few short months.)  The General Thoracic database is also open to general surgeons – and currently has 217 sites reporting data – which is more than a fifty percent increase from just a year ago.

This database is important for more than just bragging rights.  By collecting and publicizing surgical outcome data – the STS database also serves to drive compliance with national and international guidelines for pre-operative and peri-operative care. (After all, who wants to be ranked last?)  Having outcome measures published makes surgeons and surgical programs accountable to their patients and the community.  Due to the weight and importance of the data collected, the data collection procedure is a meticulous and involved process – with scheduled data ‘harvest’ dates and a specialized reporting methodology (hence the need for an annual conference.) This data on pre-operative risk factors, surgical procedures and outcomes also helps to drive and support research to determine who is best suited to perform thoracic surgery procedures such as esophagectomies, lobectomies and sympathectomies.  These databases have revolutionized surgical care around the world, and represent the largest and best organized / collected and audited data in the field of surgery.

Here at Cirugia de Torax. org, we would like to encourage thoracic surgeons worldwide to participate in the general thoracic database as part of efforts to improve overall quality and surgical outcomes.

Additional Information about the STS database:

These maps compare the number of participating programs for cardiac and thoracic surgery.

The Thoracic Surgery database collection form – this is the form surgeons and members of the surgical team use to collect and document care and outcomes.

I will continue to publish helpful information and guides to participation in the STS database over the next few weeks.

Don’t like the existing database?  Or not eligible to participate?

If you are a thoracic surgeon operating in Latin America, we would like to invite you to participate in our own thoracic surgery database.  It’s a completely computerized data submission process that works on smartphones – to simplify to data collection process.  Patient data is kept private but surgical results are available for all participating surgeons.  Best of all – we don’t charge for the ‘privilege’ of participating.  Email us at for more information and password.

Author: K Eckland

World of Thoracic Surgery is a blog about the work, research, and practices of thoracic surgeons around the world. It includes case studies, [sometimes] dry research, interviews with thoracic surgeons along with patient perspectives, and feedback.

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