By Simon Parvin
The European Society for Vascular Surgery (ESVS) and the journal which it owns, the European Journal of Vascular and Endovascular Surgery (EJVES) were conceived together 25 years ago in 1987.
They were the brainchild of five UK vascular surgeons, Peter Bell (for whom I worked as senior registrar at the time), Roger Greenhalgh, Vaughan Ruckley, Roger Baird and Simon Darke (with whom I worked as colleague for 20 years).
The first meeting of the ESVS was held at Charing Cross in the spring of 1987, and meetings have been held annually in September ever since. The meeting has now visited 23 cities in 18 European countries. There have been 25 presidents but only five secretary generals.
The EJVES is now a complex organisation with an editor-in-chief, senior editor, six associate editors and two abstract translators. There have been only six editors-in-chief since the journal began in 1987. The Impact Factor of the journal has improved steadily over the years being just over three in 2009. The current Impact Factor is 2.87 putting it 30/187 for surgical journals.
From rudimentary beginnings the ESVS is now a large organisation, run by a small core of four led by Linda Nielsen, based in Copenhagen.
The annual meeting has grown hugely over the years. It now includes not only the 10 scientific sessions one would expect from the society, but also seven scientific symposia, and 11 workshops. For the first time in 2009 nurses and technicians sessions were added, and these are gradually becoming more popular.
The scientific content of the meeting is only as good as the abstracts that are submitted. Recently we have been trying to raise the standard. There has been a 50% increase in the number of abstracts submitted over the past two years. This was followed by a dramatic increase to 80 in the number of papers accepted for presentation in 2010. This year by concentrating on quality the number was lower at 60.
Total membership of the ESVS has increased by 25% to 2,329 since 2009. We have members from 67 countries from Albania to Uzbekistan.
The vascular trainees have their own group within the ESVS, the European Vascular Surgeons in Training (EVST). It is particularly gratifying to see a 36% increase in EVST members to 599 since 2009 (54% increase since 2008).
Attendance at our annual meeting has remained roughly static at about 1,600 for the past few years, although our 25th anniversary meeting this year drew a record 1,725.
In the last few years we have set up an Education and Training Committee, whose responsibility it is to organise the workshops at the annual meeting and also workshops and symposia throughout the year. Since our meeting in Amsterdam in 2010 there have been 15 workshops on such diverse topics as venous disease, aortic aneurysm, carotid, vascular trauma, ultrasound and vascular access.
Each year the ESVS has €200,000 to award in research, educational travel, and congress travel grants. These allow us to support and encourage the development of junior members by helping their research and providing them with opportunities to visit other vascular centres and to submit abstracts and to attend the annual meeting.
This year our 25th anniversary meeting was held in Athens against a backdrop of public sector strikes involving all aspects of transportation on the day the majority of delegates were due to arrive. Despite this the meeting was judged a great success, not only from the scientific point of view, but also from the social perspective with the Opening Ceremony in the ancient Greek theatre, Herodus Attikus and a fun run in the Panathenaikon stadium (the first stadium of the modern Olympic Games).
Looking forward the ESVS aims to further expand membership and to increase attendance at the annual meeting.
Bearing in mind that 25 years ago angioplasty was fairly basic, subintimal angioplasty, EVAR and carotid stenting had not been invented, it is astonishing how much progress has been made.
Predicting the next 25 years is extraordinarily difficult, but I suspect that open surgery will disappear more or less completely, and we will be much more reliant on novel medical treatments. Diabetes and its consequences will consume an ever larger proportion of our time and budgets.
We have recently revamped our vision and mission statement and it neatly sums up the philosophy of the ESVS. We aim to be “A leader in promoting optimal care for patients with vascular disease by supporting high quality research, providing educational opportunities, organising meetings, seminars, lectures, conferences and by sponsoring the EJVES”.
Simon Parvin, consultant vascular surgeon, is secretary general of ESVS.