This time we didn’t have to travel very far for another episode of our congress coverage, just a couple of stops on the underground and we found ourselves once more at the Austria Center Vienna (ACV), every ESR employee’s second home. But this time there was a difference, 35 degrees outside and the danger of getting sunburn while walking from the underground station to the ACV. So, this is clearly not a story about the ECR, which always takes place in rather more temperate March (and also will take place in March 2012). No, this time nearly the whole ESR staff came to the Austria Center to participate in and help to set up a unique event that has never happened before and will never take place in this form again; the world congress of ultrasound (WFUMB) in conjunction with the EUROSON (congress of the EFSUMB) and the ‘Dreiländertreffen’ (three-country meeting) of Austria, Germany and Switzerland’s ultrasound societies (ÖGUM, DEGUM, SGUM), all held together on 26–29 August, 2011.
One of the big advantages of having our main congress in March is that the ACV is much more comfortable in the cooler times of the year because for some reason it’s easier to heat the building up than to cool it down. On the second day of the congress a big thunderstorm hit Vienna which, besides a lot of rain, brought a welcome drop in temperature. But enough about the weather, after all, our participants came for the congress and its scientific highlights.
The congress programme in its unique composition offered a lot of well presented sessions and courses held by renowned ultrasound experts from all over the world. In particular, Dr. Hildebrandt from Berlin Germany made a very big impression on his audience during the opening ceremony, where he presented his experiences and adventures with large patients in the field of veterinary ultrasound. Especially interesting was his video footage of his work with endangered pachyderms in African National Parks.
Another session that drew a lot of attention was the ‘How everything started: we meet our pioneer’s’ session, featuring luminaries of ultrasound such as Prof. Barry B. Goldberg from Philadelphia/US, which felt a little bit like travelling back in time and experiencing the beginnings of clinical ultrasound. Other sessions covering new technologies such as elastography or different methods of contrast-enhanced ultrasound applications were also very popular among the congress guests.
Besides the scientific programme and loads of sunshine, the WFUMB 2011 also offered a large and well attended technical exhibition presenting the latest achievements of the ultrasound industry. Congress attendees were especially grateful for the ice cream stands some of the companies brought with them to make the outside heat a little bit more bearable.
One of the social events took place in the lovely village of Gumpoldskirchen, where congress guests had the chance to attend the local wine festival and to experience the atmosphere of the many ‘Heurigen’; cosy and informal wine taverns that serve their own wine from the most recent year. Ironically, the only time during the congress that the weather turned bad and eventually into an enormous thunderstorm was during this visit, so that sitting outdoors as one normally does at a Heurige was impossible. But after one or two glasses of delicious Austrian wine the outside weather conditions soon became peripheral.
Looking back, the WFUMB 2011 was another great success for everyone from the ESR and all the companies that made a contribution to it, but far more importantly for all of the attendees who found their way to Vienna from 75 different countries worldwide. All in all we counted 2,715 participants at the WFUMB 2011: not bad for a congress held during holiday and summer time.