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State of the Heart


The STS Web Page has reached a new level with the recent posting of Dr. Larry Stephenson's book State of the Heart. This represents a sentinel achievement for The Society of Thoracic Surgeons in a number of important ways. This achievement is important to our patients, to our members, and to society.

This book represents a robust original work profiling the history of cardiac surgery and detailing much of the diagnostic and therapeutic issues associated with many of the cardiac diseases we commonly treat. It is beautifully illustrated with hundreds of original drawings and figures and is written with a style that is both informative and reassuring for patients and families. From a patient education and counseling perspective, it represents a major contribution to our ability to provide balanced and informative materials during the preoperative and postoperative phases of care.

From the perspective of the STS Web site, the addition of this book represents a major achievement on the part of the information technology group as well. It has taken nearly a year of planning and negotiation to complete this posting, which is a strong marker of the technological sophistication that the STS leadership has developed over the past years. Releases from the myriad of contributors, as well as sophisticated electronic transfers needed to be completed before it was in a format legally and technically suitable for posting. It was important that the organization and format of the electronic version of the book fit well and be consistent with the other high quality aspects of the STS Web site.

The 'legal homework' that was necessary was also formidable and represents an important lesson for future manuscript production for physicians and surgeons. If there is any chance of web based production for an electronic version, releases for print and electronic versions should be obtained from all contributors in advance. This is far easier to accomplish prospectively that it is retrospectively. The STS legal counsel has done a stellar job in streamlining this process.

The Surgical History section of the book reads like a documentary, detailing the history of our field, complete with primary text, photographs and illustrations. It is a contribution to the library of all thoracic surgeons and serves as an important educational tool for medical students and residents as well. In an era when we strive to inform medical students and uncommitted residents about our specialty, this electronic version of the book will serve as a readily available, accurate, and fascinating contribution to each of their libraries, and hopefully influence career selection for those motivated into a surgical specialty.

The technical considerations involved in migrating the book to the website were also formidable. It was important to maintain not only the content, but the format, appearance, and aesthetics of the book. It was also important to make the book available in the form of a PDF file, such that it can be downloaded and printed in a neat and textbook like fashion. Every detail was considered, setting the stage for the successful electronic migration of this and possible subsequent books.

The formation of a STS Web based library begins with several small steps. This book adds to the wealth of archived materials available through the STS Web page. The number of future books, monographs, and indeed, libraries can only be the matter of tomorrow's dreams. The State of the Heart will truly Help Cardiothoracic Surgeons Serve Patients Better!

Jeffrey P. Gold, MD
STS Web Editor-in-Chief