100th Scientific Assembly and Annual Meeting of the Radiological Society of North America

100th Scientific Assembly and Annual Meeting of the Radiological Society of North America


By: Mirkamal Tolend

The 2014 Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) annual meeting was held at the McCormick Place in Chicago from Nov 30th to Dec 5th. It is one of the largest meetings in medicine. In the previous year, 54 008 people attended the meeting from all over the globe, making it the third most attended conference in the world, closely tailing the Federation of International Medical Equipment Suppliers at 57 000, and Greater New York Dental meeting at 54 629. With this year being the 100th anniversary of its annual meeting, the RSNA probably reached first place. I had the opportunity of attend the conference this year since I was presenting study data and helping to facilitate a consensus meeting with the international collaborators for my research project. Our research group’s interest is on improving the diagnostic imaging guidelines in juvenile idiopathic arthritis patients, and the group includes many radiologists from the US and Europe. The popularity of the RSNA meeting hence provided the perfect opportunity for us to meet in person to discuss our research progress.

A great variety of educational activities were offered at the RSNA 2014, including hundreds of courses, diagnostic workshops, and scientific poster discussions. There was definitely something for everyone’s interest. The RSNA website had a very useful interface where attendees could browse through the different events and organize a personalized schedule of events to attend to. There was also a mobile app for Android phones and iPhones, but for the old-school folks, a 500 page catalogue and other pamphlets were available as well. Full participations at the six day conference could earn medical professionals up to 93.00 continuing medical education credits.

This year, there were 1 754 10-minute scientific paper presentations running in parallel throughout the week. These were either newly completed research, work-in-progress, or reports on a new aspect or understanding in clinical radiology. I attended a few sessions relevant to my research, and found it quite helpful for framing the clinical relevance of my own work and the methodological challenges I can expect in the near future. One could also spend days browsing the hard-copy and electronic exhibits at the Learning Center, which consisted of countless posters and computer stations housed in a very spacious exhibit hall. In total, the patrons could access 2151 education exhibits and 949 electronic research posters presented this year, representing at least 16 subspecialties. The education exhibits consisted of hard-copy posters, computer demonstration booths, or PowerPoint slideshows accessible from the workstations. The authors of the posters were available at specified times for in-person discussions.

Plenary sessions were held at the Arie Crown Theatre, which had seating for 4 249 people. Keynote addresses, annual orations, and special lectures were held in this format. What was most memorable to me was the image interpretation session. Five specialist radiologists who are experts in their field discussed 10 difficult cases and made a diagnosis based on the images and with minimal clinical information. The correct diagnosis (confirmed by pathology) was later revealed by the moderator, and explained further. It was very informative to hear how the experts approach difficult cases and eliminate the differential diagnoses. There was also the possibility that the experts may diagnose the cases incorrectly, which kept everyone in suspense. Fortunately, all 10 cases were diagnosed correctly by the panelists.

For the centennial occasion, a special display area was set up to showcase the earliest models of imaging equipment. These nicely contrasted the latest imaging products and services being presented at the technical exhibits. It was thrilling to see how far radiology had come over the past century. Wilhelm Roentgen, the man who started it all with his discovery of X-Rays, was also commemorated this year with a life-size wax statue. Canada and the Republic of Korea were especially honored at this centennial year, having been dedicated the “Country Presents” special courses to celebrate each country’s contributions to cardiovascular imaging.

I would like to sincerely thank my graduate supervisor Dr. Andrea Doria for providing me with this opportunity to attend the RSNA meeting. It was a highly motivating and unforgettable experience. The upcoming 2015 meeting will mark the 101st annual meeting and the 100th anniversary of the RSNA’s founding, so it will still have that special centennial feeling. If you would like to present your research, abstracts need to be submitted by 12:00 pm Chicago time on April 8th 2015. For more information, please visit RSNA.org.