Highlights of the Iranian Society of Radiology

In the 30 years since the overthrow of its last Shah (1979) Iranian radiologists have been welcome speakers and research presenters at the European Congress of Radiology (ECR).

Daniela Zimmermann and A R Sedaghat MD
Daniela Zimmermann and A R Sedaghat MD

This year, the Iranian Society of Radiology, which represents over 2,000 radiologists, also introduced itself at the congress.  There the latest issue of the Society’s official radiology journal, the Iranian Journal of Radiology (also in English) was also distributed, along with previously published issues and the Society’s journal on general medicine. 
A R Sedaghat MD (pictured right), Head of the Iranian Society of Radiology (ISR), not only presented the Society’s work but also congenially invited fellow radiologists to visit Iran.
Speaking with Daniela Zimmermann (left) of European Hospital, he explained that the Society is run in tandem with the North American Iranian Radiologists Society (NAIRS). Members who are internationally famous specialists include Dr Mahmood Mafi (head and neck);  Dr Khalkhali (mammography); Dr Azarkia (central nervous system) and Dr Bonakdarpoor (MSK).
Over 1,000 radiologists and international experts attend the ISR annual congresses. In 2007,  the Society also held its first conference on informatics in radiology. Speakers included Dr Huwang (very famous in PACS, Dr Sedaghat pointed out).  He emphasised that there are no visa problems for scientific meetings. ‘We have not closed our gates against other countries. We know a lot about them -- European, South American, as well as Canada and the USA, but I think the media in the West has closed a lot of windows, so people don’t know a lot about us.  Today, a lot of tourists visit as well as foreign doctors, scientists and engineers, to work here. Today, I can call my country the land of peace, because Afghanistan has war, Iraq has war, the countries of the former Soviet Union are not as economically stable, and some of the Gulf countries are very small and don’t want to fight against Iran (KSA is the biggest). KSA is the centre of Islamic pilgrims (Mecca and Medina); at no time would they fight against an Islamic country. So everything is very peaceful.
The way to help a country to advance and grow is not to put money in people’s pockets, he said, but by showing them the way to grow by investing the main budget into the economy of the country. ‘We have a lot of very big electricity sources, which produce over 40,000 megawatts of electricity, which we export to neighbouring regions, such as Iraq. Also, before the revolution, we had only 11 medical colleges. Now we have 40. Imagine! We also have many highways, bridges, and airports in various cities. Money from gas and oil in those 30 years was mostly spent in this way. So, though not all the people, but most of the people agree with the government. At the big annual gatherings in our cities celebration the revolution, in Tehran alone, there were more than one million people in the streets this year. The President talked with many, and the event was directly reported by 50 TV companies.’ The arguments with the USA, he explained, relate to some $20 billion held in American banks, since ‘the time of King Pahlavi, the Shah’. 
Dr Sedaghat is no stranger to the ECR, or Austria. He has participated five times, and taken a week-long MRI course there. His main focus is on neuroradiology and muscular skeletal radiology. Additionally, his own radiology practice in Karaj, near Tehran, is the country’s biggest private clinic (over 400 patients daily). There the day starts at 8 am, often ending at midnight. It provides offers nuclear medicine and echocardiography, MRI, digital mammography, CT scan, BMD, US, digital radiology, OPG etc, and employs eight radiologists, seven cardiologists, two nuclear medicine specialists and two general practitioners (both women), who compile patients’ physical examination results and clinical history, helping the radiologists to write reports and make diagnoses.
Dr Sedaghat is in his second term as ISR president for four years. He explained that such elections are monitored by the Ministry of Health as well as the Ministry of Internal Affairs. ‘We have over 85 medical scientific associations in Iran, of which the radiologists’ society is among the five biggest societies in the country.’ It not only focuses on radiology as a science, but also is responsible for fee setting for various treatments. ‘Up to two years ago, the latter was the responsibility of the Ministry of Health; now this task is undertaken by medical associations and Iran’s Medical Council,’ he explained. (All medical graduates, including midwives, etc. must be registered with the Medical Council, which has about 170,000 members). ‘So, part of our responsibility is to set the annual radiology fees, which depends on Iran’s budget. We have to increase our fees proportionally to the increased budget rates. But our most important responsibilities are scientific. We hold many small, local conferences annually, around the country. We also have central and annual congresses, e.g. the Iranian Congress of Radiology (ICR) and, since 2007, the Congress for Informatics in Radiology. We also hold workshops, for example on CT, ultrasound and GI, chest etc. and take a very active part in interventional radiology, for embolisation in fibroid tumours in the uterus, aneurismal treatment, RF ablation of tumours and so on, and have published many articles on these in our journals. We work, for example, with gynaecologists: the radiologist embolises a tumour to minimise its size and decrease blood flow; the next day, the surgeon operates on it.’ This area sees considerable cooperation with specialists beyond Iran, he added.. ‘Tehran has ten 64 slice multi-detector CT scanners and more than 80 MRI machines; most are 1.5T machines -- Philips, GE, Siemens – and  smaller machines, 0.3T, come from Japan. 
In three decades, improvement and progression in Iranians lives has been very good, he said: ‘I’m 49. I remember when the revolution began. At 18 years old, in my first year at Tehran University of Medical Sciences -- over 85% of our villages had no electricity, clean water, or good environment. Now, more than 95% of villages have electricity, clean water, schools, and very good environments. I invite you to come and see one of the most beautiful countries (IRAN).’


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