Comment: The ECR – a mirror reflecting my life as a radiologist

March 9, 2009

The first ECR meeting that I attended was in 1999. I had started a CT practice in a hospital in Mumbai in 1995 with a conventional CT scanner and when it was time to upgrade to a spiral CT scanner, my wife and I thought it would be a good idea to attend an international conference. After our experience at the RSNA in Chicago in 1994, which had left us with severe sensory and physical overload from running from one place to another, trying to attend everything at once, a smaller meeting seemed more appealing.

  

The first ECR meeting that I attended was in 1999. I had started a CT practice in a hospital in Mumbai in 1995 with a conventional CT scanner and when it was time to upgrade to a spiral CT scanner, my wife and I thought it would be a good idea to attend an international conference. After our experience at the RSNA in Chicago in 1994, which had left us with severe sensory and physical overload from running from one place to another, trying to attend everything at once, a smaller meeting seemed more appealing.

We also hadn't really been to Europe and this seemed a good opportunity to combine a holiday as well. We arrived in Vienna via Paris, Lucerne, and Interlaken. Scrimping and saving as we were in those days, we had been lucky to get a seven-day timeshare stay virtually free at a hotel in the central part of Vienna, thanks to our Resort Condominium International (RCI) membership. We loved Vienna's ambience and found the ECR more manageable and the vendors more approachable than in Chicago.

My second meeting was in 2002. Our twins were two years old. But thanks to parental support at home, we were both able to attend, though this time without a side trip. We could afford a slightly better hotel and were able to spend more time (and money) dining in some of the better restaurants. And lest you get the wrong idea, we attended the congress religiously as well…to the extent that I landed a third prize in the Case Interpretation Session. Given our constant late-night partying, this was a pleasant surprise.

In September 2004, I acquired a 64-slice CT scanner, the first to be commissioned in Asia (we beat a Chinese installation by two hours). We worked hard for the next few months and I was able to present two posters in the 2005 ECR; one on 64-slice CT and the other on stress MRI. Mirroring the move from a spiral to a 64-slice scanner, the hotel was swankier as well. Unfortunately I was alone, my wife having to stay back in Mumbai to take care of our five-year-old twins. But by then, I had local Viennese friends to meet up with, thanks to my sabbatical in cardiac MRI at the Royal Brompton hospital in London in the last quarter of 2002.

Vienna is now like an old girlfriend. You don't need to be in touch all the time, but every two or three years you feel the need to connect. Which is essentially why I am here this time, attending my fourth ECR with no pressing agenda, no posters or presentations, and a very limited number of sessions that I have picked to attend. Once you've been subspecializing long enough, general meetings such as the RSNA and ECR have less and less to offer academically. Nevertheless, they are great occasions for catching up with friends while brushing up on a few specific topics (PET/CT is my latest passion) and I will spend the time days soaking in Vienna's atmosphere, strolling on the Stephenplatz, drinking as much coffee as my body will allow, and dining in as many restaurants as possible, weather permitting.

Unfortunately, I am alone this time as well, since the kids have final exams next week and my wife had to stay home to help them. But once the kids are old enough to manage their exams on their own, we'll be back in 2012, this time together. It's always more interesting when you go to see your girlfriend with spouse in tow.

Dr. Jankharia is editor-in-chief of the ?Indian Journal of Radiology & Imaging and director and chief of radiology services at? Piramal Diagnostics-Jankharia Imaging in Mumbai, India. He has been a trustee with the Radiology Education Foundation since 2007. His main interests are chest, musculoskeletal, and cardiac radiology (all modalities, including PET).