COVID-19 has had a “significant impact” on interventional radiology training

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training“Decreases in caseload and widespread cancellation of conferences have had significant impact on diagnostic and interventional radiology (DR/IR) training during COVID-19 restrictions,” Ahmed M Gabr (Oregon Health and Science University, Portland, USA; Tanta University, Tanta, Egypt) and colleagues reflect in Academic Radiology. “Whether remote learning can mitigate lost opportunities from in-person interactions remains uncertain. Optimising these strategies will be important for potential future restricted learning paradigms and can also be extrapolated to augment trainee education during unrestricted times.”

The study investigators set out to assess the immediate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on diagnostic and interventional radiology education, and to propose measures to preserve and augment trainee education during future crises. They reviewed DR and IR procedures at a single tertiary-care teaching institution between 2015 and 2020, dividing DR up by section (body, cardiothoracic, musculoskeletal, neuroradiology, nuclear medicine, paediatrics, women’s imaging) and IR by procedural types (arterial, venous, lymphatic, core, neuro, paediatrics, dialysis, cancer embolization or ablation, non-cancer embolization, portal hypertension, and miscellaneous).

In their review, they note that remote learning technologies with annotated case recording, boards-style case reviews, procedural simulation, and narrated live cases, as well as online lectures and virtual journal clubs, have increased over the last few months.

Highlight findings

  • DR and IR caseloads decreased significantly in April 2020 compared to the same month in the previous five years (both p<0.0001).
  • Case volumes were reduced in body (49.2%, p<0.01), musculoskeletal (54.2%, p<0.05), neuroradiology (39.3%, p<0.05), and women’s imaging (75.5%, p<0.05) in DR
  • Case volumes were down in arterial (62.6%, p<0.01), neuro IR (57.6%, p<0.01) and core IR (42.6%, p<0.05) in IR.
  • The average IR trainee caseload in April 2020 was 51.9% lower than the IR trainee caseload in April in any of the previous five years (p < 0.01).
  • Utilisation of online learning increased in April. Trainees saw significant increases in overall DR didactics (31.3%, p=0.02) and no reduction in IR didactics, all online.
  • Twelve major national and international DR and IR meetings were cancelled or postponed between March and July.

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