What does the new year hold for radiology in Italy?

The Italian Society of Medical and Interventional Radiology (SIRM) is Europe's largest national scientific society, with 12,500 members. SIRM had the opportunity to highlight its activities in a special session -- "Italy Presents: Radiology in the NextGenerationEU Plan" -- held on 28 November at RSNA 2023 in Chicago.

The session put strong emphasis on the challenges facing the next generation of radiologists, along with how medical imaging is being organized at the upcoming Winter Olympic Games. It was moderated by SIRM President Prof. Andrea Giovagnoni, professor of radiology at UniversitĂ  Politecnica delle Marche in Ancona, and Prof. Emanuele Neri, professor of radiology at the University of Pisa and the society's head of international activities.

2023 12 12 Italy Presents Sirm Regional Groups

In his RSNA talk, "From Past to the Future: New Horizons for SIRM," Giovagnoni elaborated on the SIRM's structure, which consists of a board of directors, 20 study sections or subspecialties groups, and 18 regional committees to which the members belong.

Giovagnoni mapped out a plan for the future, particularly a strengthening of the international activities of the society, greater involvement of young radiologists in SIRM, and the further development of the educational plan through the use of digital communication techniques. Also on the horizon is the 51st national congress of radiology, which will take place in Milan on 20 to 23 June 2024.

2023 12 12 Italy Presents Subspecialty Sections

Prof. Antonio Barile, professor of radiology at University of L'Aquila, editor in chief of the SIRM's official journal, La Radiologia Medica, stated that the journal represents a great success story, having now achieved its highest impact factor ever at 8.9. In the ranking of the category of Radiology, Nuclear Medicine & Medical Imaging, La Radiologia Medica is among the top ten of the first quartile (Q1), coming in eighth place out of 135 journals.

During the RSNA session, Barile also announced the launch of the new open-access journal, called Journal of Medical Imaging and Interventional Radiology.

Speakers and moderators from the RSNA session held on 28 November. From left to right: Giampaolo Carrafiello, Carlo Catalano, Antonio Barile, Stefania Montemezzi, Andrea Giovagnoni, Nicoletta Gandolfo, Matthew Mauro, Emanuele Neri, Ettore Squillaci, and Cav. Uff. Mico Delianova Licastro (U.S. representative of the Italian National Olympic Committee, CONI).Speakers and moderators from the RSNA session held on 28 November. From left to right: Giampaolo Carrafiello, Carlo Catalano, Antonio Barile, Stefania Montemezzi, Andrea Giovagnoni, Nicoletta Gandolfo, Matthew Mauro, Emanuele Neri, Ettore Squillaci, and Cav. Uff. Mico Delianova Licastro (U.S. representative of the Italian National Olympic Committee, CONI).

Prof. Carlo Catalano, professor of radiology at the University of Rome La Sapienza and president of the European Society of Radiology (ESR) and ECR 2024, illustrated the National Recovery and Resilience Plan in the field of radiology

Catalano also spoke about the Digital Twins project, which focuses on the development of an Italian multiomics biobank. It includes 12 universities, the Italian National Institute of Health, five scientific research and treatment institutes, and six companies. The national network of scientists, technologists, and young researchers, by taking a holistic and multidisciplinary approach, share and develop knowledge, research, and innovative technologies in order to bring the national healthcare system into the contemporary era of precision medicine, he noted.

Promoting equality and diversity

Prof. Nicoletta Gandolfo, chair of diagnostic imaging in Genova and president-elect of the SIRM, and Prof. Stefania Montemezzi, chair of pathology and diagnostics and radiology at Borgo Trento Hospital in Verona, spoke about the activities of the Diversity Equity Inclusion (DEI) committee, a permanent body of the SIRM, which is working on the promotion of gender equality in radiology. The DEI committee has recently issued a document on practice recommendations for pregnant radiologists, to provide useful indications for working in the different phases of pregnancy and maternity.

The SIRM established this new committee on 21 May 2021. Behind this decision was an acknowledgment that the professional landscape is rapidly changing, wrote Giovagnoni, Gandolfo, and Dr. Vittorio Miele in an editorial commentary published in March 2022 by La Radiologica Medica.

Of the 11,652 SIRM members in 2021, more than 5000 (45%) were female. The percentage of women in radiology is increasing, particularly in the younger age groups. Among SIRM members, women represented 17% of the radiologists over 65 years old in 2021, while in the age group of 35 to 44 years old they are 58%. This trend will be consolidated in the future, since women are firmly over 50% of residents (from 50.8% in 2020 to 52.3% in 2022).

A report by the SIRM has shown that most women work in private practice (64%). In public hospitals, "the scenario is even more unbalanced in leading positions of public hospitals: only 14% of the heads of radiology departments, and 17% of heads of neuroradiology departments, are women. The situation is similar in academia, where women represent 26% of the faculty and only 11% of the full professors and chairs, the authors wrote.

2023 12 12 Italy Presents Gender Gap

In his RSNA talk, Prof. Gianpaolo Carrafiello, professor of radiology at the University of Milan, discussed the present and future of interventional radiology in Italy.

Carrafiello outlined the learning opportunities provided by multiple expert centers and the growth of interventional procedures in oncology, especially targeted therapies such as thermal ablation and cryoablation. SIRM has a longstanding commitment to supporting interventional radiology education and making resources available to interventional radiologists, and it has played an important role in this framework by establishing high-quality standards in the training and practice of interventional radiology throughout the country, he said.

Imaging at the Winter Olympics

Prof. Ettore Squillaci, professor of radiology at the University of Rome Tor Vergata and chair of radiology at Isola Tiberina Hospital Gemelli Isola in Rome, outlined the agreement between SIRM and CONI for the 2026 Milano-Cortina Winter Olympic Games. Radiology will play a pre-eminent role in the care of athletes, and this will therefore be a moment of great international visibility of radiology and the role of the radiologist, showing the importance of diagnostic imaging not just in healthcare but also in sports medicine, he explained.

2023 12 12 Italy Presents Olympic Winter Games

At the end of the session, RSNA President Dr. Matthew Mauro thanked SIRM for organizing and participating in the RSNA Country Presents session and presented an award to Giovagnoni.

Prof. Emanuele Neri is professor of radiology at the University of Pisa and the SIRM's head of international activities.

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