Exciting times for European interventional radiology

Efforts to unify training and certification, a regulatory environment conducive to innovation and a growing bank of clinical evidence for key procedures, is helping interventional radiology (IR) to move to a new level.

Prof. Anna-Maria Belli
Prof. Anna-Maria Belli

According to Professor Anna-Maria Belli, President of the Cardiovascular and Interventional Radiological Society of Europe (CIRSE), this has been further enhanced by closer collaboration with IR societies across Europe and around the world.

Professor Belli: ‘I think that interventional radiology in Europe is at a very exciting point. Our efforts to unify training and certification pathways are starting to bear fruit and we’re making important progress in terms of gathering clinical evidence for many of our procedures. Interventional radiology is a discipline born of innovation, and luckily the current regulatory environment in Europe is conducive to us continuing this trend. The CE-mark is not a perfect tool, but it does allow European companies and doctors to advance medicine and new techniques, which is reflected in the clinical results presented at CIRSE.’

With an EU directive on medical devices currently pending – though still too early to tell how it will affect innovation – interventional radiologists are hoping it will continue to permit them to pursue cutting-edge work for the benefit of patients.

Professor Belli remains convinced of the need to establish consistent levels of training within IR in Europe. ‘To this end, CIRSE has developed an IR curriculum and a competency test, which ensure that trainees receive comparable training and are subject to comparable assessments before they are deemed specialists in interventional radiology,’ she pointed out. ‘We could never have achieved this without the input, strong support and endorsements from national IR societies throughout Europe.’

Professor Belli believes an important next step for CIRSE is to secure subspecialty status for IR in all European countries as well as making it a priority to ‘support first-rate, thorough research that confirms that new technologies and techniques are safe, efficacious and cost-effective before they are enthusiastically embraced.’

To help achieve that, the CIRSE Research Network has been set up to make it easier for researchers to apply for and obtain EU funding for their work. The organisation is also continuing to develop and run registries that assess the safety and efficacy of specific treatments and intensifying collaboration with other clinical disciplines to ensure all angles are considered before condoning new treatment options.

The CIRSE annual congress (13-17 September in Glasgow, Scotland) offers an excellent opportunity to review the progress made in IR and celebrate achievements, Prof. Belli added. ‘The field of IR is increasingly gaining recognition, but we can’t be too complacent, because sceptics remain. So, I do think one of the most important goals of the congress is to join forces with colleagues from around Europe and the rest of the world in order to highlight the enormous contributions interventional radiologists are making to patient care.’

Anna-Maria Belli is Professor of Interventional Radiology & Consultant Radiologist in the Radiology Department at St George’s Healthcare NHS Trust in London and President of the Cardiovascular and Interventional Radiological Society of Europe (CIRSE). Her special interest lies in vascular interventional radiology, particularly endovascular management of peripheral arterial disease, embolisation for obstetric and gynaecological haemorrhage, and also in vascular malformations treatment.


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