Guest Editorial: ECR experience

By Eric J. Stern, MD
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Dr. Stern is a Professor of Radiology, Adjunct Professor of Medicine, Adjunct Professor of Medical Education and Bioinformatics, Department of Radiology, and Vice-Chairman of Academic Affairs, University of Washington, Harborview Medical Center, Seattle, WA. He is also a member of the editorial board of this journal.

In March 2008, I was fortunate to attend the annual European Congress of Radiology (ECR). Since its not-so-humble beginnings in 1991, the ECR has become the second largest meeting of radiologists in the world. It is truly an international meeting dedicated to all members of the worldwide radiologic community, from physicians, radiographers, students, managers, and industry representatives, but it clearly has a European focus. Official registration figures show that a total of 17,837 participants (including 10,917 radiologists) from 95 countries and 6 continents attended this meeting, which is hosted each year in Vienna, Austria. There were a recorded 271 participants from the United States at the 2008 ECR. All aspects of the meeting are conducted in English as the common language.

The very balanced, high-quality program includes more than 270 scientific and educational sessions, as well as 1500 oral scientific presentations and 1100 fully electronic poster presentations. An incomplete list of the scientific and educational program includes content that you might expect from such a collaborative worldwide meeting, such as named lectures, state-of-the-art symposia, at least 12 special focus sessions, 2 separate categorical courses, 75 refresher courses, several interactive image teaching sessions, a radiology training forum, and multiple satellite symposia and workshops. In other words, there is more than something for everyone. Like the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA), there is a very large and visible technical exhibit component with more than 275 exhibitors from 35 countries.

The ECR represents the annual meeting of the European Society of Radiology (ESR), which boasts >30,000 members. ESR membership is free of charge for all radiologists residing outside Europe (ie, ESR corresponding members). Only ESR full members (radiologists residing in Europe) pay an annual fee of 10. Among the many member benefits is the new ESR electronic congress, which has archived all ECR electronic presentations since 2003 and now, incredibly, boasts free access, anytime, to >6500 electronic exhibits, including >1000 PowerPoint presentations, and 280 recorded lectures and webcasts, all from a single platform. I find this to be one of the most inexpensive and valuable educational resources in the world, even allowing for the current exchange rate!

The 2008 ECR President, Professor Maximilian F. Reiser, states “the philosophy that underpins the ECR is to provide an educational and scientific forum for all disciplines within radiology, for multiple levels of expertise. The platform that ECR offers is to provide an opportunity for spreading information both old and new to a very wide audience to ensure that radiological standards are refreshed and maintained.” To that end, the ECR is a powerfully successful meeting.

The meeting is held at the Austria Center and is organized in a similar manner to large U.S. radiology society meetings, most similarly to the RSNA. There are many large corporate technical exhibits, dozens of smaller society and book vendor booths, scores of refresher courses, hundreds of scientific sessions, honorary lectures, gold medalists, and myriad organized and impromptu social functions.

In my opinion, Vienna is one of the grand cities of Europe. It is a very safe city that is easy to get to and easy to get around, either on foot or by an excellent modern and efficient public transportation system. The hotels, museums, history, arts, and culture (ranging from the palaces of the Habsburg dynasty, to the Vienna Opera House, to the art of the Vienna Secession movement) are world class. The gastronomic experiences are superb.

As Internet and travel opportunities continue to make our world a little smaller, and as many of the leading radiology societies increasingly expand their radiological science and education outreach on the global stage, I believe it is important to recognize the many contributions of international radiologists, and the great power that cooperation and collaboration bring to the future of our specialty. For 5 days each March, the ECR brings together medical delegates from 95 countries, all of whom share the same exciting vision of our future. Sprechen Sie Englisch?

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Guest Editorial: ECR experience.  Appl Radiol. 

September 22, 2008

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