Entente cordiale represents good news for patients

November 1, 2005

French radiologists and cardiologists have devised a creative and refreshingly novel solution to the turf battles between the two specialties: the first joint meeting of the French societies of radiology and cardiology, which was due to take place from 4 to 5 November in Paris.

French radiologists and cardiologists have devised a creative and refreshingly novel solution to the turf battles between the two specialties: the first joint meeting of the French societies of radiology and cardiology, which was due to take place from 4 to 5 November in Paris.

Among the topics addressed at this historic event were imaging of the coronary arteries, evolving techniques and contrast media, ischemic heart disease, and imaging of plaque. The promotional announcement that appeared in the September edition of the influential Radiologue de France included a photo of the ornate Alexander III bridge over the River Seine, suggesting that meeting organizers hoped to bridge the gap between the competing factions.

This attempt represents a definite step in the right direction. If the move is successful, subspecialty groups in other countries will no doubt follow the lead of the French. Thankfully, most of Europe has so far avoided the open hostility that exists between radiology and cardiology in the U.S., exemplified by cardiologists' vigorous lobbying campaign outside a session on turf battles at last year's RSNA meeting. There is no room for complacency, however, and any initiative designed to promote mutual understanding and collaboration deserves support.

Dr. Andrew Taylor, the U.K. radiologist featured in the news story about the future of cardiac imaging ("Cardiac imagers herald advances in multislice CT, MRI," page 8), embodies the type of constructive engagement that can benefit both subspecialties and, most important, patient care. Based in the cardiothoracic unit of Great Ormond Street Hospital in London, Taylor provides the research and clinical link between cardiology and cross-sectional imaging. He previously worked in interventional cardiovascular MR at Guy's Hospital in London and will be the Royal College of Radiologists' Roentgen Professor in 2006.

The ever-increasing complexity of technology will demand an even greater emphasis on interdisciplinary cooperation. Most observers agree that successful cardiac MRI at 3T relies on close collaboration among physicists, radiologists, and cardiologists. Similarly, myocardial stress perfusion requires the active involvement of radiologists and cardiologists, who bring important complementary skills to the field. Few radiologists would be happy administering adenosine, interpreting the ECG response, or tackling problems that may occur.

In cardiac CT, radiologists are the experts at protocol design to optimize temporal and spatial resolution while minimizing radiation dosage. Cardiologists are trained to administer beta blockers to slow the heart rate. Together, the two groups can interpret the cardiovascular and noncardiovascular findings of the studies.

Forums such as this month's meeting in France and the efforts of groups such as the European Society of Cardiac Radiology are essential to ensuring the climate of trust and respect that can deliver better patient care.