The European Society for Thoracic Surgery (ESTS) has just named the Dr. Nuria Novoahead of the Thoracic Surgery Service at the Puerta de Hierro Majadahonda University Hospital, as the new president of the society, a position that will hold during the next year. Dr. Novoa is the third woman to preside over this society and also the third Spaniard to reach this position in the 33-year history of the institution.

Dr. Novoa assumes the organizational challenge to take another step in the professionalization of society. In an interview given to ConSalud.es, hours after his appointment, he explains what the goals that is marked, analyzes how the incorporation of new technologies and their implementation are affecting society, as well as the paradigm shifts important that have occurred due to the multidisciplinary approach and thanks to the help of AI in lung cancer.

Congratulations on your appointment, how do you face this new stage?

I face it with great enthusiasm and a lot of energy. I think it is going to be a stage with many changes in which we are going to give a good push to certain aspects, especially administrative ones, of the society, which we hope will result in the members’ perception of the scientific society being much better.

What are the challenges that await you within society?

On the one hand we have the challenges of administrative changes that are going to be very interesting. And from a scientific point of view we continue to maintain a very high level of knowledge that is demonstrated each year at the annual Congress of Thoracic Surgery.

And, on the other hand, we want to further promote training and contact with members through educational activities at all levels that we are able to organize. This means a greater variety of courses, backed by European accreditation and, of course, by the participation of the best specialists from anywhere in the world on the topic in question.

“We want to promote training and offer a greater variety of courses, always supported by European accreditation and the participation of the best international specialists”

For the last three years I have served as the company’s Education Director and therefore I continue to have that vision that we need to communicate with members to give them the best training so that they can stay updated and at the highest level of knowledge.

How are you adapting to the incorporation of new technologies in the field of thoracic surgery?

We are trying to incorporate them in a systematic and natural way into the specialty. An area in which new technologies that have to do with the preparatory image of complex surgery cases such as segmentectomies, through the three-dimensional reconstruction of the scanner images with which we obtain a very clear visualization of both of the bronchial tree as well as the arteries and veins, help us a lot to perform high-precision surgery.

This is one of the areas in which Artificial Intelligence is helping us, but it is also reaching other areas such as everything that has to do with image reading or the development of new therapeutic targets.

“Some of the available technologies are already being used, although not everywhere and perhaps not with the penetration they should”

In the field of lung cancer diagnosis, also from the radiological point of view, help can come from the early interpretation of the scan in the screening. I believe that the specialty, at that and other levels, will benefit greatly from the introduction of new technologies. Some of these technologies, in fact, are already being used, although not everywhere and perhaps not with the penetration they should.

The introduction of new technologies requires that professionals be trained in their use. How is this objective addressed?

Within European society there is a group that is beginning to develop its activity and that has already published a couple of publications, based on surveys, on the digitalization of services and on digital tools both at the management level and at the level of daily work. with patients. It is interesting to see how the tools exist and people know about them, but the degree of penetration they have in the services is not as intense as it should be. There we have an important area of ​​work.

From the robotic point of view, society has an important area in which there is a very powerful working group where both improvement initiatives and the use of the robot itself come together, as well as to request improvements from the manufacturing companies that develop it. And we also have a huge area for training since the European society currently takes out eight annual scholarships for training and specific fellowships in robotics, which can be developed throughout Europe.

In these two areas there is a lot of work to do and my mission is to promote the working groups so that they produce results.

During the next year 2025, possibly while you are still in the presidency, one of the milestones in society will occur, which is the completion of the first unified European certification exam. What are the advances in this aspect?

This is one of those areas where I see the results of my collaboration during all these years in society. The problem with this exam is that until now it was being carried out in two separate parts, one of them was carried out by the European Association of Cardiothoracic Surgery (EACTS), a society that has highly developed the exam for many years, and the other Part of it was carried out by our society under the umbrella of the European Union of Medical Specialists (UEMS).

“In 2025, the unified European certification exam will be held for the first time”

For several years now, both societies have been working on the unification of this exam. During the last three years we have been carrying out intense and very fruitful work that seems clear to see its results next year, with the first part being carried out in a unified manner for the first time. of this exam. And the second part, we hope, will also be working in the same way in 2026.

What have been the most relevant advances in recent years in the field of thoracic surgery?

There have been many since in the past year there has been a radical change in the treatment paradigm for patients with lung cancer, which is what we work on most. At the level of the locally advanced stage there has been an absolute change in the paradigm and I believe that right now we are in a position to help many patients that until now we have tried to help, but with rather dubious results. However, at this time multidisciplinary collaboration with medical and radiation oncology has provided a fundamental change. The other leg of this working group, which is Pulmonology, has also been improved by its ability to provide better high-precision diagnoses thanks to the new technologies available. Today what we can offer our lung cancer patients is markedly different.

“In short, the 10º will be key to good preservation, and that will have consequences in improving the logistics of lung transplants”

Another area where very intense changes are occurring is in lung transplantation, specifically in relation to the change in preservation temperature. There is a paradigm shift at the level of preservation, which was done with cold ice keeping the pieces at 4º, but research work started years ago with preservation at 10º has been recovered and after a private study we have achieved very favorable results. In short, these ten degrees are going to be key to good preservation, and that is going to have consequences in improving the logistics of lung transplants.

How do you rate Spain’s level in the specialty worldwide?

In Spain, very cutting-edge and very good things are being done. We can take as an example the first lung transplant done by a robot in the world that was performed at the Vall d’Hebron hospital, and which is a very important milestone. And although, as always, there is room for improvement, we are making very good contributions and we have a very exciting outlook ahead of us.