On April 15-16, 2016, the seventh scientific meeting of the International Surgical Sleep Society was held in Sao Paulo, Brazil.  The ISSS Sao Paulo meeting was the largest and most-comprehensive meeting of our organization.  As a co-organizer, we took the opportunity to expand the program, especially the discussions focused on pediatric sleep surgery and treatment with maxillofacial surgery and oral appliances.  Brazil is in the midst of an extremely difficult time–economically and politically–but Brazilian colleagues and people welcomed us with their typical incredible warmth and hospitality.  It was a fantastic meeting, and those of us in attendance did our best to contribute proudly to the good stories of the ISSS.

Growing interest and tackling challenges in sleep surgery

The ISSS was founded in 2006 to advance the field of sleep surgery.  From the beginning, ISSS meetings have included leaders in sleep surgery research from around the world.  We have all benefited from the freedom to share experiences and the latest developments.  These conferences have always provided the opportunity for people to share positive and negative outcomes and respectful disagreements so that we can all learn from each other and benefit.  Over the past decade, more surgeons have taken an interest in sleep surgery, and in turn our members and meetings have grown larger, including more topics and enhancing the lively and invaluable discussions.

The ISSS Sao Paulo meeting surpassed this standard in every way.  As the first ISSS meeting held in Latin America, there were many first-time attendees, including some whom I had not met before.  It is rejuvenating to be surrounded by colleagues who share a commitment to the same field–especially when our experiences are different.  Because I have given talks in many developing countries, I am familiar with some of the challenges, whether due to resource limitations or substantial taxes on imported medical devices, that virtually block some new technologies.  Understanding and overcoming these challenges–doing more with less–is one of the hurdles we all face in treating the hundreds of millions of people worldwide with obstructive sleep apnea and snoring.

Part of addressing challenges is performing high-quality research.  I am proud that two major research studies are currently underway, under the auspices of the ISSS that will bring together multiple sleep surgery centers from around the world.  One study will examine the role of drug-induced sleep endoscopy as en evaluation technique in sleep apnea, basically whether it helps in selection of procedures and predicting outcomes.  Another will measure outcomes of sleep apnea surgery across a number of institutions.  Both will contribute substantially to the field of sleep surgery.

ISSS Sao Paulo: sharing experiences to help patients

Personally, the sleep surgery colleagues I know through the ISSS are a tremendous resource and source of inspiration.  Many of my patients have benefited from my asking them about challenging clinical situations, just as they have done with me.  It is for this reason that I was so happy to become President after the previous meeting in 2014 and will have the honor of hosting the next meeting in Los Angeles in Spring 2017.  We have a difficult act to follow, but I am confident that my colleagues will be equal to the task.

For those of you who may be interested in attending, we will soon have details available on the ISSS website: http://surgicalsleep.org.

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