Euroanaesthesia 2009, the annual scientific meeting of the European Society of Anaesthesiology, took place at the beginning of June in the Milano Convention Centre, the largest convention centre in Italy.
Over its four days, around 5,500 delegates attended. Most participants pre-registered, but around 15% registered on the day. Euroanaesthesia has a similar format to most major medical conferences, in that there is a large industrial exhibition, with almost 100 industrial stands and scientific and educational content comprised of refresher course lectures, scientific updates, hands-on workshops, interactive sessions and abstract presentations.
Euroanaesthesia is a general conference, which aims to provide a broad range and depth of content, with something for everyone from novice to expert. The scientific programme is planned by a series of subcommittees covering fields as diverse as paediatrics, respiration, intensive care and ethics. A new subcommittee this year now covers peri-operative management of the elderly – an increasingly important cohort of patients.
The Milano Convention Centre provided an excellent, spacious venue for the congress. As delegates have come to expect, the standard of speakers was high. The ESA deliberately seeks new speakers, rather than relying on purely the well known. The result is a mix of speakers, some are undoubtedly world experts, and others are likely to become world experts in a few years time.
Many of the delegates are able to come to Euroanaesthesia by virtue of the reduced rates available to abstract presenters. Close to 800 abstracts were presented in poster format; around 67% of submitted abstracts are accepted. The standard of poster presentations is generally high and reported studies include full-scale trials, basic science and cohort studies. With presenters from all around the world, there was the occasional language problem, but with good humour and patience these were usually overcome. The best 6 abstracts were presented orally, with prizes for the top three. The winner this year was Malin Jonsson Fagerlund (Sweden) with a paper entitled: "The functional affinity for propofol is dramatically decreased in human α1β2(N290M)γ2 and α2β3 - (N290M) γ2 mutant GABAA receptors".
Aside from the scientific presentations, delegates spent time browsing the industrial exhibition. Despite the economic downturn, around 100 companies came to the congress, again covering the whole of anaesthesia and intensive care related pharmacology and technology. One of the interesting aspects of returning to the same congress is observing the subtle, or not so subtle, ways in which industry changes the way products are marketed. Non-invasive monitoring of cardiac output was one of the rising stars this year, with established and new products vying for delegates' attention.
As well as the science and industrial exhibitions, Euroanaesthesia includes a prize giving ceremony. Every year, successful candidates of the European Diploma of Anaesthesiology and In - tensive Care are awarded their diploma.
This year was a special year: it is 25 years since the Diploma was founded, and the ESA was pleased to be able to honour this achievement. The EDA is actually believed to be the oldest surviving European medical diploma.
The Dräger company have sponsored a prize for the last few years for the best paper published by a European group in the field of intensive care. This year there was strong competition. Following a very rigorous approval process, the Dräger prize was awarded to Peter Radermacher and the Universitätsklinik für Anästhesiologie, Ulm, Germany for their paper: Effects of ventilation with 100% oxygen during early hyperdynamic porcine fecal peritonitis. Barth E, Bassi G, Maybauer DM et al. Critical Care Medicine; 2008;36:495-503.
Outside of the congress, delegates had the opportunity to explore the renaissance wonders and fashion of Milan. Eating out was a pleasure, with fine food and drink available in a multitude of restaurants and bars. The networking evening was a Renaissance themed event in the grounds of at the beautiful main state university of Milan "Università degli Studi di Milano". Delicious Italian specialities were served from the generous buffet tables with entertainment provided by renaissance singers, dancers and jugglers.
Overall the congress was judged a success, both by delegates and by the ESA. The ESA looks forward to welcoming people to its 2010 congress in Helsinki.