A review of the EUROSPINE annual general meeting, which took place in Lyon in October
The flagship event in the EUROSPINE calendar took place in Lyon at the beginning of October. The annual general meeting brought together professionals from across Europe and from further afield – South America, China, Japan, India and the Middle East – all with the aim of sharing the professional challenges of providing quality health care in diverse economic climates.
The programme committee put together a meeting programme of extraordinary scientific strength. Over three-days, we saw a total of seven non-parallel scientific sessions, six scientific lunch symposia, two debates on current controversial topics, as well as five concurrent quick-fire sessions. Particular highlights included the ‘best of show’ session, featuring the eight highest-scoring abstract submissions; the Medal and Awards lectures; as well as a Keynote presentation from the local host of our annual meeting.
Out of 606 validly submitted abstracts, 70 were chosen for oral presentations after undergoing a rigorous review process. Another 75 papers were selected for short communication/quick-fire presentation. The authors of a further 94 abstracts were given the chance to present their work as scientific posters throughout the meeting.
The award for Best Full Paper was given to Ferran Pellisé (Barcelona) and his team for their paper which compared the impact on health-related quality of life of adult spinal deformity with other chronic conditions. Meanwhile, Wouter Moojen, and colleagues from Leiden in the Netherlands, took the Best Podium Award for 2014 for their presentation of the long-term results of a randomised controlled trial comparing treatment with surgical interspinous implants against conventional decompression for lumbar spinal stenosis.
Delegates at the meeting benefited from additional features such as the EUROSPINE App, which offered easy access to scientific and logistic congress information, including details of the programme, speakers, sessions, posters and congress venue. The App also enabled delegates to capture the full experience of the meeting by participating in interactive voting, as well as being able to bookmark favourite sessions and read the exclusive e-version of the congress newspaper The Spine Times.
There were plenty of social networking opportunities during both the welcome reception, and the official congress evening, all of which were ‘green’ and fully compliant. Finally, the cloakroom and left-luggage facility raised much-needed funds for Unicef; as organisers, we would like to offer our thanks to the charming volunteers who helped to make that happen.
The activities of EUROSPINE support the next generation of healthcare professionals and, as a special challenge for this group, President Philip Sell, introduced the EUROSPINE 2014 President’s Prize. Young professionals were asked to submit an abstract entitled ‘How can the spinal trainees of today become the best spine specialists of tomorrow?’. First prize was awarded to Maryem-Fama Ismael Aguirre from Milan, Italy, who wrote that spinal trainees need to focus on personal training while advancing their specialty, and that the three pillars of personal motivation, a qualified mentor and a common training platform are necessary to achieve these goals. Second prize went to Tim Heiland of Ulm in Germany who believes that young trainees need to break boundaries and look to the treatment of spinal disorders as a multidisciplinary task, as well as embracing ‘soft skills’to enable better communication with patients and their families.
The winning abstracts were published in the congress newspaper The Spine Times.
The way forward
EUROSPINE has developed a ‘Way Forward’ strategy to promote and advance developments within the society. As part of this strategy, a new Institutional Membership category was created to bring together all European spine societies under one umbrella, with EUROSPINE as a common communications platform. The goals of the Institutional Membership programme focus upon the representation and implementation of common interests in Europe, increasing political importance, and the standardisation of processes, e.g. the development of a common, spine-specific educational concept (European Spine Certificate).
The presidents of all European spine societies were invited to attend the Lyon congress and participate in the first European Spine Societies Advisory Board (EuSSAB) meeting. The first pan-European meeting of spine societies within the scope of EuSSAB brought together 27 societies from 21 countries and received broad and convincing support. At this meeting, first goals and ambitions were defined, which will be implemented during the years to come as part of a ‘united effort of all European spine societies’.
Another of EUROSPINE’s long-term goals is to promote the society to young and active members and to provide support for bright minds in spinal care from an early stage in their careers. With this in mind, a new Young Members membership category has been set up for those under 40 years of age and offers a discount of 50% on the regular annual membership fee.
Building on the success of our meetings we have introduced a Spring meeting for specific spine specialists. These short, two-day events offer a mixture of focused abstracts, informed debate and an emphasis on evidence-based medicine to provide good quality, high-value professional development. The Spring 2015 meeting will take place in Barcelona and will centre around the topic of scoliosis. A Spring 2016 event will focus on tumour, infection and trauma.
EUROSPINE is a not-for-profit organisation whose funds are returned to society in visible projects. Task Force Research has reviewed many grant applications and awarded over €450,000 to fund research over the last years. Patient line receives 40,000 hits a month, is now available in Greek, and is in the process of modernisation.
For further details about EUROSPINE visit www.EUROSPINE.org.
Best Podium Presentation
Surgical interspinous implant versus conventional decompression for lumbar spinal stenosis – a randomised controlled trial, long‐term results
by Wouter Moojen, Mark Arts, Wilco Jacobs, Carmen Vleggeert‐Lankamp and Wilco Peul
How can the spinal trainees of today become the best spine specialists of tomorrow?
Maryem-Fama Ismael Aguirre