Berlin conference demonstrates why MR-focused events remain relevant

August 1, 2007

The doom-and-gloom merchants have been predicting the inevitable demise of single-modality congresses for more than a decade. They claim that such meetings lack cohesion and clinical focus, are inefficient for OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) wishing to exhibit a full range of imaging products, and try to appeal to too many diverse groups, namely chemists, physicists, biologists, and radiologists.

The doom-and-gloom merchants have been predicting the inevitable demise of single-modality congresses for more than a decade. They claim that such meetings lack cohesion and clinical focus, are inefficient for OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) wishing to exhibit a full range of imaging products, and try to appeal to too many diverse groups, namely chemists, physicists, biologists, and radiologists. These conferences cannot compete effectively over the long term with annual multimodality events like the ECR and RSNA meeting, as well as the national radiology events, according to these people.

There are no clear signs, however, that their prediction is going to come true. Beginning in 2009, the World Congress of Ultrasound will increase its frequency from every three to every two years, and the Euroson meeting has become an established annual event. The International Society for MR in Medicine's meeting has enjoyed similar growth, as shown by the success of its 15th annual congress, held in Berlin in May, which ran jointly with the European Society for MR in Medicine and Biology. The ESMRMB also has its own annual meeting and plans to organize another congress with the ISMRM in Stockholm in May 2010.

Curiously, perhaps, no comparable congresses exist for CT and PET, although smaller events, like Stanford's annual international symposium on multidetector-row CT, are becoming regulars on the conference circuit.

The Berlin conference demonstrates why single-modality meetings probably have a secure future. Its well-conceived scientific program concentrated on emerging areas like interventional MR, the influence of 3T and high field strength on MRI, and how MRI can be combined into hybrid systems with PET or SPECT. Special attention was given to the modality's role in molecular imaging, including MR biomarkers, and the use of MR for drug discovery and therapeutic response monitoring.

More than 2000 traditional posters were displayed at the congress, in addition to around 950 electronic exhibits, and there was a real buzz in the huge poster hall during the session breaks. The two most prestigious awards went to research teams from the radiology department of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. The top prize for an oncology poster went to a presentation on multimodal image-guided enzyme/prodrug cancer therapy, and the first prize for a neurological poster was for a study on MRI of the cervical spinal cord at 3T.

A special symposium examined the facts about nephrogenic systemic fibrosis and gave recommendations on how radiologists can best minimize the risk of NSF for their patients. There have been around 240 cases worldwide since 1999, many of which have involved patients with renal dysfunction. You can log on to DiagnosticImaging.com to check on the latest information about this important topic, as well as to access our webcast from the 2007 ISMRM/ESMRMB congress in Berlin.