Summit Meeting of the 2011 European Association of Echocardiography Print E-mail

The main topics of the meeting were:

1. Applying new echocardiographic methods in clinical practice (three-dimensional and contrast echocardiography, deformation methods)

2. Process of restructure in „Association of Cardiac Imaging" open issues – the role of echocardiography, management, retention of members, education of cardiologists for different imaging methods in Europe

3. The club for persons under 35 years of age – emphasis on involvement of young persons

The conclusions are the following:

Ad. 1. New methods (3D, strain imaging, contrast) bring an important progress to the whole echocardiographic examination and they should have their place reserved in daily clinical practice according to clinical query and individualized approach to a clinical problem. In Europe, such methods are applied in a number of different ways, while a great number of countries use some of the methods in larger echocardiographic laboratories, whereas a small number of countries use all new methods on a daily basis. The most applied methods are contrast echocardiography within strain echocardiography for better visualization of endocardium, followed by three-dimensional echocardiography (in congenital defects, for better preparation prior to percutaneous closure, the function of the left and right ventricle), while the evaluation method of deformation is the least used method. The primary reason for its insufficient use in the clinical practice is the complexity of the methods and inadequately trained staff.

The recommendation of the leading team for education and training EAE is to stimulate individual training of skills under guidance in laboratories accredited for specific methods. Croatia is perceived as the member that uses at least one of the new methods in clinical practice, which has digitalized laboratories, continuous archive in digital format, protocol examinations and individualized accreditation in transthoracic echocardiography.

Ad. 2. The European Union has recognized a problem of high costs for imaging methods in Cardiology and ESC has warned against growing costs that have greatly risen during the last five-year period. Accordingly, the process of integration of imaging methods in one association has been initiated. Since EAE has proved to be the leading association of ESC, with the greatest number of members, the most visited and actual annual meetings – EUROECHO, which is why it has been evaluated as the most active association, ESC consider that EAE should grow into the European association of all cardiac imaging methods - Association of Cardiac Imaging. The first step on this way has been undertaken by changing the name of EUROECHO meeting in European meeting on Echocardiography and Non-Invasive Cardiovascular Imaging.

Echocardiography is a method conducted by cardiologists familiarized with patients' clinical problem, whereas an approach to a patient and resolution of a clinical problem are efficiently integrated. This is the basic idea for the integration of all imaging methods where cardiologists would be actively put in charge thereby improving diagnostics on the one hand and rationalizing tests on the other hand.

ESC has added that the existing Council for Cardiovascular Imaging failed to live up to the expectations in respect of undertaken activities, so their restructure is expected. Some preliminary meetings with leading teams of ESC working groups for cardiac magnetic resonance, nuclear cardiology and CT have been conducted.

In somewhat longer debate where all representatives were called to put forward the attitudes of their national associations, the following was concluded: the process was principally adopted, whereas the participants share the opinion that cardiologists should be actively in charge of integrated approach to a patient in selecting and conducting imaging methods, whereas specific features and independence of every method in such a wide association should be retained, membership and a high level of performance of EUROECHO meeting should be maintained and formal education for cardiologists for the above indicated methods should be specified.

Ad 3. The club of persons under 35 years of age has been established aimed at better understanding and establishing an approach to the requirements of the younger generation of future experts in echocardiography. The focus of the activity is placed on attracting younger people, spreading of the association, accelerated flow of required information, exchanging ideas and all forms of education required for those who are undergoing the learning process.

Besides the main topics, the topics on membership, communication with national associations, promotion of EAE and a wide distribution of guidelines were discussed. It was stressed that the involvement of new members should be nationally stimulated with a set target of 5000 members till December this year. Eventually, a conceptual design by the current Board for 2012 aimed at promotion of echocardiography was presented.

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