The Pediatric and Congenital Heart Disease track at the 27 th Scientific Sessions in Seattle highlighted the breadth and depth of academic investigation and education that characterizes the pediatric/congenital heart disease imaging community. The sessions were very well attended, and the pediatric room was consistently full-from the early morning sessions and right through the evening. Statistics show that we consistently had among the highest attendance of any of the ASE tracks; and our attendance at the ASE scientific sessions is disproportionately high relative to the small size of our field.
This year we continued to develop themes that have emerged over the past years; as well as introducing new themes and sessions. We continued to highlight the application and validation of newer technologies for the diagnosis and management of congenital and pediatric heart disease. For the first time, we held a workshop on 3D echocardiography in congenital heart disease that was led by the field’s most prominent leaders, supported by software from industry sponsors, to make this a superb educational experience that provided practice-relevant knowledge. Based on the inaugural workshop’s success, we are planning to repeat this at next year’s sessions.
Following up on the 3D theme was a symposium on 3D-printing. The sessions’ educational impact continues to be extended by the availability for purchase of a 3D-printed model of a complex Double Inlet Left Heart specimen (at http://www.materialise.com/order-dilv-heart ). Another first was a fascinating symposium on Veterinary Cardiology, including an intriguing lecture on the ethics of animal research. A chalk talk session on quality control in pediatric/congenital echo provided a unique and more informal interaction between a group of experts and the audience. Alongside innovative sessions, technology and teaching tools, we continued time-tested methods to learn complex anatomy and physiology. Dr. Stephen Sanders delivered superb pathological demonstrations of complex single ventricles, as well as ventricular non-compaction, followed by lectures from experts on echo imaging of these conditions and their surgical management. Indeed, the need for pathological specimens versus use of imaging modalities and 3D printing was a contested topic of debate in the ever-popular debates session. In another session, senior faculty mentored younger physicians on interesting cases, chosen in a peer-reviewed competition, and presented from the podium. This ensures that the approach, experience, and wisdom of the “elders” is transferred to the upcoming generation of pediatric/congenital echocardiographers.
The commitment and enthusiasm of the Pediatric/Congenital Heart Disease imaging community to the ASE and to the Scientific Sessions was evident not only in the thorough preparation of the excellent podium presentations in the educational sessions, but also in the quantity and quality of the original scientific investigations submitted as abstracts. A record number of 122 abstracts were submitted to the Pediatric Track, of which 64% were selected for poster and oral presentation. The science highlighted the work of trainees, junior, and senior investigators from national and international centers. A highlight of the pediatric sessions was oral presentation of the six highest-rated abstracts in a dedicated podium session. This year we emphasized the importance of original science in our field by having the ASE Pediatric and Congenital Heart Disease Council chair, Dr. Meryl Cohen, and the “Fireside Chat” guest of honor, Dr. Joe Kisslo, join the pediatric track chair (Dr. Piers Barker) and co-chair (myself) as a podium panel. The oral abstracts encapsulated the breadth of scientific investigation in our field including validation of novel methods to quantify contractility using simultaneous invasive measurements and echocardiography, diagnostic accuracy of fetal echocardiography, applicability of the first pediatric appropriate use criteria for outpatient echocardiography to clinical practice and a fascinating abstract on how cardiac remodeling and mechanics in fetal life impacts cardiac function in adulthood.
The growing collaborations between the pediatric ASE community and adult counterparts was strengthened in these sessions. Several adult experts presented lectures in various pediatric sessions, including sessions on echo guidance of interventional procedures and echo emergencies; and pediatric experts presented lectures in adult sessions. Dr. Kisslo was the pediatric track’s “Fireside Chat” guest of honor. Well known to all in the adult echo community for his many pioneering accomplishments in echocardiography, he actually began his career in congenital heart disease. Dr. James D. Thomas co-chaired a pediatric session on extreme imaging with 3D fiber mechanics and remodeling; and for the first time, a pediatric cardiologist (Dr. Luc Mertens) was part of the judging panel for the ASE young investigators award. This is especially fitting as for two years in a row, a pediatric investigator has been chosen to present in the young investigators competition.
The 27 th Scientific Sessions also exemplified the strong and growing ties the ASE Council on Pediatric and Congenital Heart Disease has with international colleagues. We held a joint session with the European Association of Cardiovascular Imaging (EACVI) on the right ventricle; and throughout the program, many international colleagues gave thought-provoking lectures, including fascinating talks in a session on diagnosis and management of the ever-complex, congenitally-corrected transposition of the great arteries.
With each Scientific Session we have grown into a vibrant, enthusiastic and strong community that works and plays hard! We will look forward to connecting with colleagues and friends at the 2017 sessions in Baltimore for a similarly outstanding experience.
Mark Friedberg, FASE is a staff cardiologist and associate scientist at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto and an associate Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Toronto. His research interests include echocardiographic assessment of ventricular function in children using echocardiography as well as investigation of ventricular-ventricular interactions in animal models of pulmonary hypertension.