ISMRM meeting provided clinical focus

November 4, 2004

As president of the International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine and a practicing clinical radiologist, I do not think the points you made about the ISMRM not meeting the clinical needs of practicing radiologists accurately reflect the content of our Kyoto Annual Meeting ("Clinical needs of practicing radiologists challenge ISMRM," July, page 5).

Since the merger of our two predecessor societies, the board of the ISMRM and its scientific and educational program committees have worked hard to make clinically relevant material an integral part of each meeting. Let me review some specific initiatives we undertook at the Kyoto meeting:

- Each plenary lecture had a component discussing clinical implications and the application of various MR techniques in the clinical setting. On some days, all the plenary lectures were given by physicians. In the metabolomics session, John Griffiths gave an amazing talk about how MR spectroscopy is used to look at important physiologic questions related to diagnosis. Our objective was to give physicians a look at what they can use now and in the future.

- We introduced the Mansfield Lecture this year. It was given by Dr. Bob Edelman, an internationally recognized speaker and a practicing physician, speaking on the clinical impact and opportunity offered by fast imaging.

- We held an SMRT/ISMRM forum focused on imaging artifacts, pitfalls, and corrections. It was given by technologists, physicians, and physicists, but it was aimed at physicians.

- We increased the number of clinical science focus sessions (10) relative to the number of basic science focus sessions (five). The clinical science sessions are a combination of "How do I do it?" and new ways in which diagnostic imaging studies can be done.

- Each morning, there was a clinical categorical course dedicated to how-to topics, from high-field neuroimaging to cardiovascular to intervention. Only the categorical course on drug development was not directly related to diagnostic clinical imaging today.

- Each afternoon, there was an MR physics course for physicians who want to know more about how MRI works. This course was as popular this year as in the past. One evaluation described the lectures as "the best educational lectures I have ever seen, anywhere."

- Our morning categorical courses aimed at physicians included MR angiography, musculoskeletal, functional body, and diffusion tensor/functional. The average attendance was higher for these courses than in previous years. The evaluations were uniformly very good.

- Our audit of written complaints found very few about a heavy science focus or lack of clinical material. I think there were only three such complaints. A much larger number of comments indicated that the balance was great.

There were not two constituencies at the meeting, as you portrayed them in your commentary. Rather, there were three components: clinical education, science, and most important, integration. It is the integration component that makes the ISMRM unique in the imaging world, with clinicians learning from each other and from scientists, and scientists learning from clinicians and from each other.

Walter Kucharczyk, M.D., FRCP(C)

President, ISMRM, department of medical imaging

University of Toronto