AANA24: A Day-by-Day Recap

By: Clayton Nuelle, M.D., FAANA and Harris Slone, M.D., FAANA  


The 2024 AANA Annual Meeting (AANA24) was held in the Hynes Convention Center in Boston, Massachusetts and was one for the record books! Program Chair Dr. Rachel Frank and Immediate Past President Dr. J.T. Tokish put together a fantastic program, attracting 1,374 total attendees (the most to attend an AANA meeting in the last decade!), including virtual attendees for the very first time! A special focus session geared towards rehabilitation was also attended by 39 physical therapists. This year’s meeting was jam-packed with scientific sessions, debates, pearls and complications management, as well as 132 e-posters and 22 Instructional Course Lectures (ICLs). The general and concurrent session format this year allowed for a more tailored program, providing AANA members to attend sessions that yielded the most educational “bang for their buck.” 


In addition to the top-notch scientific program, there were a variety of social and networking events. The program included an Emerging Leaders and Residents and Fellows curriculum and reception, and social events included the AANA Education Foundation Donor recognition event, the International Reception, the Don Johnson Traveling Fellows Reception, a tour of Boston landmarks and the granddaddy of all receptions on Friday evening – the Presidential Celebration at the State Room overlooking the Boston harbor.  

Day 1 (Thursday): The meeting began with welcomes from Drs. Frank & Tokish, along with Dr. Tokish recognizing the guest nation, Brazil, and some of the international faculty present. Next the meeting kicked off with a bang with “Knee Day.” There were heated debates on ACL primary repair, ACL plus lateral augmentation, ACL slope correction and suture augmentation. There was a surgical innovation spotlight on Quadriceps ACL graft harvest, prep and fixation from Dr. Rachel Frank and a case panel discussion from knee experts.  


After a break the main stage continued with Knee Joint Preservation, specifically meniscal and cartilage presentations. There were concurrent sessions on Rotator Cuff, Hip, Residents and Fellows clinical showcase and a session for knee and cuff arthroscopy all-stars – en Español! 


Rounding out the morning of Day 1 was an amazing talk by Dr. Richard Hawkins entitled, “The Journey: Lessons in Orthopaedics and Life.” Dr. Hawkins shared some terrific stories from his early days, his career taking care of athletes and various high-profile leaders and many inspirational quotes from his 40+ years on orthopaedics.  


Next, the Presidential Keynote address was delivered by Lt. Col. Dan Rooney. Mr. Rooney is a F-16 Fighter pilot (2x Top Gun recipient) and PGA golf professional (the only man in the world to have done both) who founded “Folds of Honor,” a charitable organization dedicated to providing scholarships to the families of fallen military service men & women and first responders. His address was entitled, “Fly Into the Wind: How to Harness Faith and Fearlessness on your Ascent to Greatness.” The main hall was packed and riveted as he shared amazing stories from his life and career and shared his code of living: “CAVU.” CAVU is an Air Force acronym that stands for “Ceiling and Visibility Unlimited,” which describes the perfect conditions to be a fighter pilot and is a mantra for helping each of us discover and seize our best life.  


Lunch offered an opportunity for industry-sponsored sessions, which were enthusiastically attended on both Thursday and Friday.  


The afternoon continued with concurrent sessions on Ultrasound uses, Pediatric Knee, Patellofemoral Knee, Hip research papers and the aforementioned Resident/Fellows program while the main stage highlighted current techniques in Shoulder Instability. Finally, the afternoon concluded with numerous Instructional Course Lectures and social receptions.  

Day 2 (Friday): Day 2 got rolling with an Ecumenical breakfast and then multiple terrific ICLs. There were concurrent sessions on Knee Osteotomy, Foot and Ankle Innovations, Wrist/Elbow Innovations, the Female Athlete and Board Review. The main stage was “Shoulder Day,” beginning with Rotator Cuff presentations and concluding with Dr. Scott Sigman doing an innovation spotlight on Primary RCR with Augmentation. Rotator Cuff case presentations continued into Lunch and further industry spotlights and breaks in the Exhibit Hall.  


Next the “AANA Legacy Session” began with Dr. Rachel Frank describing her journey, first as a former athlete and a patient who required multiple knee joint preservation procedures (performed by Dr. Brian Cole), to her interest being further sparked by working as a research assistant with Dr. Cole, to becoming a Rush Resident and Fellow and finally to becoming a team physician herself. Two former University of Colorado athletes, Hannah Cardenas, B.A., M.S. and Miranda Manfre, B.S. shared their stories and how the interactions with their surgeon (Dr. Frank) and healthcare teams have inspired them to pursue medical careers.  


The Presidential Address from Dr. J.T. Tokish came next and, as you would suspect, was outstanding. Dr. Tokish delivered the address in his usual confident and humorous way, but also with great humility. He discussed his work with the MAST program, including a $200,000 grant funded by the program to support a project initiated by Dr. Andrew Sheean and the ACL IMPACT study group entitled, “Defining the Impact of General Mental Health, Resilience, and Pain Catastrophizing on Return to Duty and Clinical Outcomes After ACL Reconstruction.” Dr. Tokish also detailed the results of the “AANA Happiness Project” and promised to continue to gather further data on factors that separate surgeon’s fulfillment from frustration. Finally, he thanked each member of the AANA staff individually.  


Friday afternoon continued with a Diversity session, Announcements of the 2024-2025 AANA Board of Directors and AANA Awards. Drs. Jeffrey Abrams and Robert Burks received the Distinguished Service Award and Dr. Stephen Burkhart received the Lifetime Achievement Award. Dr. J.W. Thomas Byrd gave a Traveling Fellows and Godfather report and Dr. Tokish recognized the AANA Committee Chairs.  


The afternoon continued with sessions on revision ACL, Foot and Ankle and the Business of Medicine. There were multiple evening ICLs and then the Traveling Fellows Alumni Reception where the 2024 Fellows (Drs. Giovanna Medina, Lewis Shi, Robert Parisien and Daniel Song) each gave presentations and stories from their experience leading up to the Annual Meeting.  


Day 2 concluded with the grand Presidential Celebration at the State Room overlooking Boston. All AANA24 attendees, guests and exhibitors were invited, and they were treated to amazing food and an enthusiastic live band. It was truly an evening to remember.

Day 3 (Saturday): The final day of AANA24 got off to a hot start with many “standing room only” ICLs on topics including Revision ACL Reconstruction, the State of Biologics in 2024, Hip Arthroscopy, Digitally Planned Osteotomies and Management of Massive Cuff Tears. Attendees could then choose between the Sports Rehabilitation Symposium or the morning General Scientific Session. The main stage scientific session was filled with debates regarding graft choice for ACL in a high-risk female athlete, which bone block is best for recurrent shoulder instability, hip labral augmentation vs. reconstruction and ended with the crowd favorite – the father vs. son Ferkel debate on open vs. MIS Achilles repair.


The Complications Competition then followed debates on the main stage, with great surgeons showing us how they managed very humbling complications. The Arthroscopic Pearls Competition showcased useful tips and tricks in the OR with our own Program Chair Dr. Rachel Frank taking the win with her “Coban Curl.”


Following the break, the main stage continued with “Hip in Prime Time” where hip heavyweights discussed everything hip from basics to complex. Innovation spotlights on hip labral reconstruction and scope hamstring repair were given by Drs. Genuario and Nho, respectively. Options galore were available for those who don’t scope hips, with concurrent knee scientific papers, shoulder instability talks and debates or the “AANA Member On-Call” session where AANA experts shared strategies for ways to manage the unexpected and unpredictable life of an on-call surgeon.   


Following the lunch break, the concurrent options included Innovation and Advocacy, AANA/Biologics Association joint session, the Athletic Arthritic Shoulder, and Leading-Edge Military Treatments for our injured heroes.


The afternoon general scientific session continued, as Dr. Tokish introduced and officially passed the gavel to the new AANA President, Dr. Alan Curtis. On behalf of all AANA members, we thank Dr. Tokish for his vision and leadership over the past year and beyond!


The final scientific session of the 2024 meeting focused on the Aging Athlete. This session highlighted arthroscopic strategies and debates regarding optimal treatment for common weekend warrior and “experienced athlete” injuries, including meniscal root tears and unicompartmental knee arthritis. Drs. Cole, Savoie and Bonner demonstrated new and cutting-edge surgical techniques in the “Future is Now” session, prior to the adjournment from Drs. Frank and Tokish.


We thank all who attended AANA24 (both in-person and virtually) for one of the best AANA meetings of all time. The education, special events and networking with friends are what keep us counting the days to the next annual meeting. Be sure to mark your calendars for May 8-10, 2025 for the next AANA Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. – you won’t want to miss it!

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