By: 22 January 2019
EUROSPINE 2018 – An international academic community celebrates its 20th anniversary

EUROSPINE 2018 took place from 19 to 21 September at the CCIB in Barcelona and was a full success. Nearly 4,000 participants from 80 countries joined together for a memorable 20th anniversary meeting. EUROSPINE’s Annual General Meeting is an international prime forum where leading experts from the spinal field get together to share in-depth knowledge.


A well-rounded scientific programme filled to the brim

The rich scientific programme offered three pre-day courses dealing with “Anterior approaches to the thoracic and lumbar spine”, “Emerging technologies in spine surgery” and the “Spine Tango Users Meeting (STUM)” as well as 78 oral presentations covering diverse topics, from basic science to new techniques, medical economics and patient safety, to name a few. Two debates examined whether e-learning was the future of spinal surgery education on the one hand and how specific low back pain could ever be on the other hand. To top it off, 90 QuickFire presentations, 155 e-posters, seven lunch symposia and additional 19 lunch workshops conducted by our industry partners catered for even more brain food.

Highlights included Martin E Schwab’s Medal Lecture. Martin E Schwab is professor of Neuroscience at the Institute of Regenerative Medicine of the University of Zurich and at the Department of Health Sciences and Technology of ETH Zurich. Exactly 20 years ago he held the Medal Lecture at the first EUROSPINE meeting. On the occasion of EUROSPINE’s anniversary this year, we felt honoured that he had returned for a second time to speak about spinal cord recovery.

Great crowd at first ESF charity run

In the early morning hours, around 122 runners and walkers participated in the first ever EUROSPINE Foundation (ESF) Charity Run as the sun rose over the beaches of Barcelona. What a magical moment! 100 per cent of registration fees were donated to the ESF with the goal to advance knowledge of spinal disorders, improve standard of care and the recovery and well-being of patients with back and neck problems.

Networking with the finest minds in spine

In a unique and interactive installation, EUROSPINE’s Time Capsule offered a look back at achievements that not only make us proud but also formed the society to what it is now, namely one of the leading spine organisations in the world, as well as relationships between colleagues that have grown to great friendships and are also part of what gives EUROSPINE its familial flair. It is only logic that the first two EUROSPINE Presidents Carlos Villanueva from Barcelona, Spain, and Jiří Dvořák from Zurich, Switzerland, both received the Honorary Membership in appreciation of their invaluable contributions to the society. Members and delegates enjoyed diverse opportunities to network and exchange ideas with the finest minds in spine care that have shaped EUROSPINE since its beginnings and made it a world-class association.


New board elected – ready for the future

We would like to congratulate the new board members Tim Pigott, President, Liverpool, UK; Everard Munting, Vice President, Ottignies, Belgium; Jörg Franke, Secretary, Magdeburg, Germany; Christoph Siepe, Head of the newly created EuSSAB Council, Munich, Germany; Margareta Nordin, Head of Stakeholder Council, Romorantin, France; Tamás Fekete, Head of Meeting Council, Zurich, Switzerland and last but not least L. Rachid Salmi, Head of Research Council, Bordeaux, France. They will ensure to continue the high-quality work of their previous colleagues. We wish them all a successful term.


Upcoming educational opportunities

EUROSPINE 2018 may be over, but the memories will last another 20 years at least. Join us next year for more top-notch educational opportunities.

EUROSPINE’s Spring Specialty Meeting 2019 will be held from 2–3 May in Frankfurt, Germany, together with our friends from DWG (German Spine Society), AOSpine and SRS, and will deal with ‘Highly Complex Spine Surgery’.

If you plan to apply for a research grant, the course ‘How to Make your Research more Relevant, Feasible and Publishable’ from 13–17 March 2019 in Bordeaux, France, is a unique opportunity for your research group to initiate the design of your study with help from experienced researchers who are used to review grant requests.

Education Week 2019 will follow from 1–5 July in the new premises of the SFITS in Geneva, Switzerland and is therefore easily accessible from all over the world.

And when you are welcomed with Tervetuloa Helsinkiin you are already in the middle of EUROSPINE 2019, which will take place from 16–18 October in Helsinki, Finland. See you up north.


Medal Lecture: New therapies to repair the neuronal hardware and improve functional recovery after spinal cord injury

Martin E. Schwab, Institute for Regenerative Medicine, University of Zurich, and Department of Health Sciences and Technology, ETH Zurich

For many decades, the spinal cord with its tract systems, local interneuron circuits and motoneurons was seen as a rather static, ‘hard-wired’ structure with low potential for repair after injuries. Recent animal studies lead to a very different picture: Interrupted descending tracts can sprout and establish new connections to local neurons including propriospinal neurons the axons of which have been spared in cases of incomplete injures. Functional studies show that such a ‘detour pathway’ can mediate key aspects of functional recovery. This plastic potential of spinal cord, brainstem and cortex is an important basis of training-induced recovery of function. Axonal growth can be enhanced massively in the injured spinal cord by the suppression of endogenous growth inhibitory factors present in the adult spinal cord and brain. Nogo-A, a membrane protein in CNS myelin, is the most potent currently known inhibitor and can be neutralised by antibodies. After large, incomplete spinal cord injuries in rats and monkeys, intrathecal application of anti-Nogo-A antibodies leads to enhanced fibre tract regeneration, enhanced circuit plasticity, and a high degree of recovery of locomotion, skilled hand movements, and bladder function. A Phase 2 clinical trial with anti-Nogo-A antibodies in acute ASIA A-C patients in currently on-going in a network of European spinal cord injury centres (