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ASM 2021

SVT Annual Scientific Meeting 2021
review by Anam Akhtar AVS

As a regular attendee of the SVT -Annual Scientific Meeting (ASM), I was really looking forward to the AGM this year, particularly since the previous year’s had to be cancelled due to Covid-19.

First and foremost, it was particularly refreshing to move away from our unnatural and isolated lifestyle. The extraordinary impact associated with the emergence of Covid-19, introduced an array of challenges; yet another difficult year of social distancing, communication facilitated by technology, permanent face coverings and not to forget all the clinical strains we faced.

The First day of the conference started with the Research skills and Methods Workshop. I particularly liked the fact the event was held over three days, with a focused session dedicated to research and education. I have long found, despite the encouragement from the committee and training schools towards research, it remains a daunting prospect for many; mostly due to the lack of experience, understanding and knowledge of clinical application; Not to forget the potential void it creates when undertaking STP equivalence.

The Research workshop was an excellent introduction into the programme, educating members and breaking the process down into smaller steps; from identifying key concepts, data collection/database selection, results, search strategies to funding and regulating research.

Dr Steven Rogers and Dr Beth Harris provided an informative talk on the pre-requisites for undertaking research, as well as the ‘Good Clinical Practise’ course by NIHR and the funding available for vascular scientists, this was certainly of note and now has been encouraged further in our team meetings.

I would love to see the research workshops continue to provide such educational content, However, I feel data analysis and statistical application, can often pose as the stumbling block within research, particularly amongst individuals with zero or little experience, therefore it may be useful to  incorporate an introductory interactive workshop in smaller groups at the ASM, where members would be able  to use test data to analyse using the appropriate statistical software’s, consequently guiding them to properly characterize, summarize, present and interpret results.

The afternoon commenced with eight trainee MSc research proposals, all of which were delivered superbly with studies relevant to our clinical practice. 

The presentations regarding the evaluation of the GCA diagnostic pathways, the effectiveness of CEUS compared to CTA and Duplex and the health literacy study by Sophie Bowen, David Machin and Chloe Bishop respectively, were interesting and contemplative, since these were current topics being reviewed in our department.

This year I decided to rotate between the different charter rooms and the main hall.  This certainly proved a difficult decision, deciding which session to attend and which to pass, but I finally decided to spend some time in the main hall, where I witnessed an impressive turnout. The oral abstracts were indeed fascinating especially since they provided a wholesome insight into vascular medicine from a more surgical perspective. 

My personal highlight of this session was a particularly motivating and thought-provoking talk on a sensitive topic regarding the push for widening participation in medicine from BAME backgrounds and the difficulties they currently face in the workplace. This topic appeared to resonate with some individuals as well as spread awareness which resulted in multiple offers of support towards the cause and foundation.

After a walk around the exhibition hall and meeting old colleagues and acquaintances, I returned to the SVT charter room to attend an extremely educational session; the joint VASBI-SVTGBI session, teaching us about the success and methodology of endo-AVF procedures as well as the importance of accurate venous and arterial mapping when using the WavelinQ™ and Ellipsys® systems.

Day two started with the research project abstracts by newly qualified vascular scientists, where we heard some brilliant abstracts.  Award winning presentations by Dr Osian Llwyd (Newly qualified vascular scientist) on “The feasibility of assessing cerebrovascular reactivity with carotid duplex ultrasound” and Dr Nazia Saeed’s (Senior Clinical Vascular Scientist) on “Carotid Webb; Missed on duplex” both were articulated excellently with good scientific content and particularly extraordinary Carotid Webb images were illustrated in the latter talk.

There were three sessions I was particularly looking forward to;

The Great Debate – “Should Vascular Ultrasound only be performed by experienced vascular scientists”, The personal “experience of a vascular surgeon and a bilateral lower limb amputee” by Mr Neil Hopper and finally the Jackie Walton Lecture on the “The role of an interventional vascular scientist in venous procedures” by Gurdeep Jandu. 

All three were delivered exceptionally well and were thoroughly enjoyable and thought provoking indeed. I enjoyed the light-hearted approach taken for a debate on a contentious subject, with valid points delivered by the ‘For’ and ‘Against’ party, consequently leaving me more undecided than before.

The personal account by Mr. Hopper was eye-opening at the least, as he described his experience on the other side of the knife and spoke of the lack of after care and support emotionally, physically and socially, post procedure. Mr. Hopper’s journey was truly inspiring as he walked us through his journey back into resuming work as a Vascular surgeon and how shifting perspective can enable us to enhance the care we provide. Finally, the Jackie Walton lecture was motivating and aspiring, as it demonstrated long overdue advanced development opportunities for vascular scientist, as well as a cost-effective method for the NHS to reduce waiting lists.

The day concluded with the Annual General Meeting and SVT Education Committee Report running simultaneously, ending the afternoon with the award presentation.

The evening formal dinner and drinks reception help at the Manchester Convention centre, was a delightful opportunity to dress up and celebrate the achievements within vascular, as well as network with other vascular practitioners across the country. A glamourous evening with a three-course meal, live band and dancing certainly brought the conference to a great close.

Overall, I found the ASM this year was a great success, and the content was certainly engaging and educational for scientists of all stages. I look forward to next year’s AGM in Brighton.