“Cooperation, not competition”, say speakers as ESR prepares to meet cardiologists


At each ECR since 2008, the ‘ESR meets’ programme has included a partner discipline along with the three guest countries, as a way to build formal bridges between the European Society of Radiology (ESR) and other branches of medicine, and to give congress participants an opportunity to learn about something a little different. At ECR 2014 the programme includes a visit from undoubtedly the largest medical discipline to take part in the initiative so far: cardiology, represented by one of the biggest medical societies in Europe, the European Society of Cardiology (ESC). Cardiology has much in common with radiology, but this is the first time that the two European societies have come together for an official joint session at a major meeting.

Despite some well-known points of controversy between the two disciplines, concerning professional ‘turf’, the overriding message during this afternoon’s ‘ESR meets ESC’ session will be one of cooperation and mutual understanding. Prof. Panos Vardas, president of the European Society of Cardiology, who will co-preside at the session, believes that the blurring of borders between subspecialties makes this kind of exchange of knowledge a must.

“Our societies share so many imaging techniques and modalities that our scientific communities simply have to exchange views and scientific opinions. I cannot imagine that any other medical community shares as many techniques with radiologists as we do, so it makes perfect sense for us to try to pool our knowledge. As technology evolves, especially in imaging, the distinctions between specialties are becoming less clear. The most important thing for the patient is that we have well educated experts who function as a team, are familiar with the requirements of their colleagues, and can learn from them too. The techniques we use each day, such as diffusion techniques and many cardiovascular interventional techniques, are becoming more complex, and there is no question that cooperation between both disciplines in these areas can save lives,” said Vardas.

ECR 2014 Congress President, Prof. Valentin Sinitsyn, who will co-chair the session, is a cardiac imaging specialist and current president of the European Society of Cardiac Radiology (ESCR). Having worked closely with cardiologists for many years, he is glad of this opportunity to promote their work and to demonstrate the importance of their contributions to research in radiological areas.

“The ESC is a very important society for us to get to know better, as cardiology is so close to radiology in daily practice and there is a lot we can learn from them. In general, I would like there to be better connections and understanding between radiologists doing cardiac imaging and cardiologists. Sometimes the relationship between the disciplines can seem slightly strained, because it is true that in some areas we are sometimes competing for the same work. But I feel it is important for radiologists to be aware of the research that cardiologists are doing in the field of cardiac imaging and to make use of that specialist knowledge of the heart. Of course, we want to have a good partnership with cardiology, because I believe that top level research in cardiac imaging is only possible if we cooperate well with cardiologists,” said Sinitysn.

With diseases of the heart ranking among some of the biggest causes of death in the world, it is clear that radiologists need to have a good basic knowledge of cardiac diseases and cardiology, and interest in subspecialising in cardiac imaging is apparently rising. As modern imaging techniques have improved, cardiac imaging has gradually moved beyond specialist centres and into general hospitals, stimulating growing interest among general radiologists, according to Sinitsyn. This growth is also visible in the ESR’s recently updated European Training Curriculum, which includes a large chapter on cardiac imaging, developed in cooperation with the ESCR, including cardiac coronary CT and cardiac MRI. Today’s session looks at the role of these techniques, as well as multimodality approaches, in assessing a range of situations such as acute chest pain, myocardial viability, and valvular heart disease.

One of the speakers, Prof. Massimo Lombardi, from Policlinico San Donato Milanese, Italy, will talk about the role of MRI in the assessment of myocardial viability, which is a very demanding aspect of the evaluation of post-infarction patients. The presence of viable myocardium strongly affects decision making in this group of patients, and MRI, due to its intrinsic flexibility is recognised as the gold standard technique in the field. Although both specialties may feel that cardiac MRI falls within their remit, Lombardi stresses that the best results are nearly always achieved through cooperation.

“Myocardial viability is a typical situation where it is crucial to understand and fulfil the needs of clinicians. When detected, viable tissue requires a prompt therapeutic response, and that is coronary revascularisation. The imaging expert, whether a radiologist or cardiologist, has to interact with the clinician and the surgeon to identify the best operative choice, so their knowledge and ability to discuss cases has to be absolutely equal to their colleagues. In the vast majority of cases, it is essential to have both the professional figures present on an even footing during the acquisition of images and during the reporting phase. Working as a team enhances the quality of the outcome. Cooperation, and not competition, is the prerequisite for a good performance,” said Lombardi.

“I think there is no better way for both disciplines to succeed than to be good friends and move forward together,” agreed Sinitysn. “I’m very much looking forward to welcoming them to Vienna, and I’m sure the cooperation between the two societies will continue after this meeting,” he added.

Saturday, 16:00–17:30, Room B
ESR meets ESC (European Society of Cardiology)
EM 3: The role of imaging in the cardiac patient
Welcome by the ESR President
G. Frija; Paris/FR
V.E. Sinitsyn; Moscow/RU
P.E. Vardas; Iraklion/GR
Introduction [A-278]
P.E. Vardas; Iraklion/GR
Assessing myocardial viability [A-279]
M. Lombardi; San Donato Milanese/IT
Assessing acute chest pain [A-280]
R. Rosenhek; Vienna/AT
Assessing valvular heart disease [A-281]
S. Muzzarelli; Lugano/CH
Assessing interventions [A-282]
V. Delgado; Leiden/NL
Panel discussion

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