After years of painstaking lobbying and efforts from CIRSE, we are celebrating the official recognition of interventional radiology as a distinct medical subspecialty. Embracing the recent UEMS’ decision, Greece will also become one of the few European countries to officially offer 1-2 years of subspecialty training in interventional radiology.
Official European skill certification and training quality standardisation will further contribute to widespread legal coverage and adequate reimbursement of interventional radiologic procedures in the future.
However, being the devil’s advocate, I am wondering if that is enough. The UEMS’ decision is definitely paving the way towards an independent clinical specialty, but current interventional radiology practice trends are still far away from that point. The shortage of adequately trained clinically-oriented physicians and the unprecedented developments in medical technology render interventional radiology a victim of its own success.
Minimally invasive percutaneous and endovascular therapies have escaped the barriers of a small but ingenious group of physicians and have revolutionised the whole of modern medicine. Trying to withhold or restrict successful interventional radiology treatments within an elite professional group is at least short-sighted. Do not forget that we are not competing with each other, but with all the other specialties dreaming about sticking in a needle, a catheter or a stent.
Young interventional radiologists like me should forget about turf battles and have the motivation and the passion to become the best in what we do. Adequate knowledge of radiological imaging, technical expertise and wise clinical thinking built on years of everyday practice are just the minimal requirements.
Modern interventional radiology physicians have to choose from a wide variety of already established fields, like vascular interventional radiology, interventional oncology and musculoskeletal interventions. We have to continually advertise ourselves in our hospital and community, and above all, assume personal responsibility of the patients we treat while building on the level of scientific evidence of interventional radiology with high-quality scientific publications. We have to be aggressive and antagonistic, think “outside the box” and continue developing novel minimally invasive image-guided therapies, if we are to evolve to a new “medical species”. After all, only the best will survive.
Konstantinos Katsanos is an interventional radiologist from Greece