The culture, healthcare organisation, and practice of radiology in Croatia, Slovakia, and Slovenia come under the microscope this morning at ECR 2020. Speakers from these three Central European nations will join together to shine new light on their working lives and countries of origin.

“We believe this is a great opportunity to present our country and radiology – so people can see what we are doing, and we can become more visible,” said Dr. Maja Marolt Mušič, President of the Slovenian Association of Radiology and a radiologist at the Institute of Oncology in Ljubljana.

Considerable progress has been made in Slovenia over recent years, she said. For instance, the national screening programme for early detection of breast cancer, called DORA, began in 2008. Women aged 50 to 69 are invited every two years to mammography by letter, and the major advantage of the programme is the early detection of small, non-palpable cancers and less treatment and the long-term reduction of breast cancer mortality. The attendance rate is over 78%, and the programme is free of charge.

A 54-year-old woman with a history of buttock liposarcoma presented with shortness of breath. A lesion was identified on an echocardiogram and a CT scan. She was referred to MRI for better differentiation. An oval lesion can be seen that is hyperintense on short axis T2 FS sequence (right upper image) and on short axis SSFP (right lower image). It is hypointense on short axis T1 sequence (left upper image) and has significant enhancement shown on 4cv LGE (left lower image). You can find out more about this case at today’s session (provided by Dr. Zuzana Berecova).

Along with radiologists from Croatia and Slovakia, Mušič plans to present information on radiology, as well as tourism and culture. Invited to join the session by Prof. Boris Brkljačić, President of the European Society of Radiology and ECR 2020, who is himself from Croatia, she hopes to deliver new information on Slovenia – a country with a population of just over two million that is known for its mountains, ski resorts, and lakes.

In her talk, she will be showing a short video from the Slovenian tourist agency, highlighting the scenery, towns, and opportunities for canoeing, golf and white-water rafting. In 2016, Ljubljana was named European Green Capital, and many of these activities focus on Slovenia’s eco credentials.

But the talks won’t just focus on tourism. Mušič’s colleague, Dr. Vladka Salapura, a radiology specialist from the Ljubljana University Medical Centre, will be presenting on interventional radiology.

“We’ve just celebrated the 80th anniversary of intervention, so we chose this for our presentation at ECR,” Mušič told ECR Today.

The talks will also focus on some of the differences in radiology between these Central European and other countries in Europe and beyond. Dr. Zuzana Berecova, chief of the Radiology Department at the University Hospital, St. Michael Hospital in Bratislava, will be discussing the achievements and challenges of cardiac MRI in Slovakia.

Thirty years ago, Slovakia faced the problem of trying to improve their technology after decades of underfunding. Many radiologists encountered difficulties experimenting with new techniques on ageing equipment and struggled to travel and obtain academic literature.

“We started to use software and machines later than other western European countries – so this was a big difference from them,” explained Berecova, adding that there was a passionate desire for knowledge and change, but the funding was not there in the past.

Slovakian radiology has overcome these challenges, and life is now very different, she continued. Today there are eight centres providing cardiac MRI in Slovakia, with several certified radiologists seeing thousands of patients. Like some other European countries, there is a shortage of radiologists trained in cardiac imaging, but to improve the situation, the Slovak Radiology Society has adopted its own certification scheme.

Ljubljana won the European Green Capital Award in 2016 (provided by David Enzel on Unsplash).

“We only started with the first cardiac MRI in 2003, and now we’re doing more than 2,000 examinations a year – and that’s what I think is one of our achievements,” she commented.

Berecova considers that communication between radiologists, cardiologists, cardiac surgeons, and other clinicians is particularly important today. In her opinion, it’s not enough for different specialists to read each other’s requisition forms, and MRI or CT readings; they also need to talk about patients, discuss how they reached a diagnosis, and to get feedback on how to do things better.

To share knowledge of new advances in the field, the country’s cardiac MRI specialists have set up a working group within the Slovak Society of Cardiology. They also consult with each other about interesting cases and pass on new information. They have established strong friendships and meet as often as they can, and this is a major strength of the specialty they’ve built, as it is hard to make progress without the input of others, she pointed out.

At the end of her presentation, Berecova plans to present a variety of cardiac MRI case studies, and she hopes this will generate interest and attention among attendees.

Please note that this session will not take place as planned but will feature messages from the respective societies’ presidents.

ESR meets Session, Friday, July 17, 09:45–10:15
ESR meets Israel, Croatia, Slovakia and Slovenia

  • Welcome from the ECR 2020 Congress President
    Boris Brkljačić; Zagreb/HR
  • Messages from:
    Jacob Sosna; Jerusalem/IL; President of the Israel Radiological Association
    Damir Miletić; Rijeka/HR; President of the Croatian Society of Radiology
    Viera Lehotská; Bratislava/SK; President of the Slovak Association of Radiology
    Maja Marolt Music; Ljubljana/SI; President of the Slovenian Association of Radiology


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