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The 37th Spanish Congress of Radiology SERAM 2024 will take place from May 22 until May 25 in Barcelona, Spain. Mélisande Rouger spoke with the SERAM’s incoming President Mila Otero García from Vigo, to have a preview and learn more about hot topics in Spain. 

What is new at the meeting this year? 

Many things! For the first time, artificial intelligence (AI), which is already present in our daily work, will go hand in hand in with the scientific program. We will have an AI corner, where companies will present their work together with radiologists.

Speakers will show advances in diagnostics in every pathology and field, and participants will be able to interact with residents and presenters, and learn in dedicated hands-on workshops. 

A session of the European Diploma in Radiology (EDiR) will be held at the meeting for the first time, and we hope this will be continued in the next congresses. Another novelty will be the inclusion of the industry in scientific presentations.

Another first is the solidarity race that will take place on the third day of the meeting, to raise funds for Casal dels Infants, an organization that fights against social inequalities. 

Radiographers will have a dedicated program in the conference. Can you tell us more?

Technicians will have their program and it is open to everyone, both radiologists and radiographers. These sessions will tackle specific cross-cutting topics for management, as many radiographers are team coordinators.

We will also have ultrasound workshops, specific AI sessions, and specific training and publication workshops on how to include radiographers in a research program. Some sessions will be dedicated to the training opportunities that currently exist, as well as oral and written scientific communications. 

Is the radiographers’ training still an issue in Spain? 

The situation hasn’t changed, unfortunately. Radiographers here are still struggling to get the same degree as their European counterparts. It is not logical that they have a degree in other European countries and we don’t. It is impossible to complete the training required in Europe in just two years. It has to change. The training Spanish radiographers have is underestimated, it is the same as 30 years ago, and that cannot be. 

Mila Otero García, Head of Section of abdominal and genitourinary radiology at the University Hospital of Vigo, will take over as President of the Spanish Society of Radiology (SERAM) during the society’s meeting in Barcelona.

Oncology radiology is also a center theme at the meeting. Why?

Oncology is the trending topic of our daily work. Cancer is the most frequent pathology we have to deal with, that is why it has its own block and is included in all the other blocks.
There will be sessions on radiomics and AI applications in cancer diagnosis, and a monographic course on peritoneal carcinomatosis. 

We will also have training sessions in cancer imaging in all anatomical areas – neuro, breast, liver tumors, lung, urology, MSK – and multidisciplinary sessions featuring the latest technological advances, for example spectral CT in cancer imaging.

Sustainability is a hot topic in radiology. How do you address this concern? 

We use more and more modern equipment that requires less contrast product and reduces carbon emissions.

In my hospital, we changed to LED bulbs, turn off the equipment every day, and check the cooling system because it is what consumes a lot of energy in medical imaging.

We were going to start collecting the wastewater from one of our equipments but we are on standby now because of an EU directive. This should be done in the next few years though. 

What about staff shortages? Is this a global phenomenon in Spain too?

We suffer from a severe lack of radiologists. Hospitals in big cities do not face such an acute shortage as the ‘emptied part of Spain’ (la España vaciada), which is not as attractive. This is a territory problem, and an issue for many of our autonomous regions that do not have a coast.

The different autonomies have tried to improve the situation with better salaries, but there is very little to distribute to begin with – salaries and quality of life are real problems for healthcare professionals in Spain.

What do you think are the current challenges with respect to medical imaging AI in Spain?

AI is here to stay. I just implemented an algorithm for chest x-ray at my hospital. New equipment comes with AI, in particular MRI, to speed up image acquisition.

We still need to introduce it in older equipment that does not offer it as an option yet, in order to work faster. We need to address cybersecurity and add some filters, but it is unavoidable to work with AI now. 

As former ESUR President, what can you tell us about genitourinary radiology in Europe?

ESUR is a very active and well structured society. It is always on the cutting edge of research and elaborates guidelines. They have a committee for hot topics such as screening programs – for prostate cancer, ovarian cancer, etc – and contrast products, working for example on the development of new gadolinium contrast media. A session of EDiR applied to the prostate will also be held at the upcoming ESUR congress in Lisbon next September. 

Mila Otero García is Head of Section of abdominal and genitourinary radiology at the University Hospital of Vigo, Spain. She is a Teaching Collaborator at Universidad de Santiago de Compostela (USC) and Associate Professor in the biomedical engineering degree at Vigo University (UVigo). Dr. Otero served as President of the European Society of Urogenital Radiology (ESUR) between 2020 and 2022.