South East Asian Society of Interventional Radiology (SEASIR): state and future of radiology in interventional radiology
Department of Biomedical Imaging, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
The empires of the future are the empires of the mind.
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Healthcare is widely viewed as an essential service and
even a right of all members of society. Global dynamic changes within the past
decade in the legislative, financial and technological areas have had a
dramatic effect on the practice of radiology. Interventional radiology is no
exception. The provision of basic healthcare with escalating costs of healthcare,
aging populations, global financial crises, higher expectations of the
citizens, imminent introduction of the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA) with its
Roadmap for Integration of the healthcare sector , health tourism as well as
the increased use of teleradiology are some of the numerous challenges facing
radiological practice in the ASEAN region. Further, administrative changes
within the healthcare sector are increasingly moving power to the
Interventional radiology is a clinical discipline with a
procedural foundation rooted in diagnostic imaging and almost entirely
dependent on innovation. Like its diagnostic �sibling�, interventional
radiology has a very strong clinical focus that demands a �patient-centred�
focus. Interventional radiologists possess a special blend of knowledge based
on diagnostic imaging fundamentals complemented by technical and clinical
management expertise that, when applied skillfully and with care, can save and
improve lives cost-effectively. The advent of more robust and user-friendly
devices with decreased cost is making procedures available to a greater number
of patients. Further, the emergence of techniques such MR guided Focused
Ultrasound Surgery (MRgFUS) will create a new breed of �computer game� image-guided
Today the number of interventional radiology (IR)
procedures continues to grow at a rapid pace with newer techniques based on
rapid advances in technology. Unfortunately, there is a concomitant shortage of
expertise which is also affecting the diagnostic radiology. This shortage is
expected to worsen, with some estimating a 2% annual increase in the number of
radiologists, compared with a 3.5% increase in the number of procedures. The
compensation structures which favour diagnostic procedures over interventional
procedures (along with the greater risks associated with performing
interventional procuress) has drawn away young interventional radiologists into
the diagnostic side. Interestingly, even though there is recognition of the
importance on teaching diagnostic radiology to medical students, relatively
little has been done to attract medical students to radiology, especially
interventional radiology. Additionally the political influence of
interventional radiologists is visibly lacking and it is imperative that
interventional radiologists gain recognition as substantial contributors to the
advancement of medicine at the level of government funding agencies for the
specialty to grow.
Interventional radiology, which is still young in the
ASEAN region, has made tremendous progress over the last 2 decades. It has to
be said that this progress has occurred in varying degrees with good
interventional services in some regions or countries (e.g. Singapore and Thailand) and virtually non-existent in others. There are only a handful of
interventional radiologists who are practising interventional radiology and
most only on a part-time basis. This is related mainly to the lack of resources
and poorly developed referral patterns secondary to issues of turf. Credit must
go to the earlier pioneers who recognised the tremendous potential of the new
discipline and made a concerted effort to ensure interventional radiology�s
rightful place in the community of medicine in their respective countries. They
faced tough challenges, among them a lack of support from colleagues, lack of
adequate numbers of radiologists, and lack of financial support. Despite the
odds they were able to create the vision, excite the younger colleagues and
emphasise the importance of the future role of interventional radiology. This
early success was built upon by the current leaders within each of the ASEAN
countries who are also working tirelessly to sustain the future of
The SEASIR was formed to overcome some of these challenges
and the stated objectives of the SEASIR are:
- To advance interventional radiology through a non-profit society of
radiologists and individuals in related fields of medicine and science in South
- To encourage and support the development of expertise and training in
interventional radiology in South East Asia.
- To foster the promotion of closer fellowship, collaboration and exchange
of ideas among individuals with an interest in interventional radiology and
related fields in South East Asia.
- To provide scientific meetings for the reading and discussion of papers,
research, preliminary work and ideas, and the dissemination of knowledge
related to interventional radiology.
- In furtherance of the above objects, the Society may provide continuing
education through refresher courses, and disseminate knowledge through
publications of the Society.
Member countries to date consist of Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam and Philippines. Over the last several years
the network amongst the interventional radiologists in SEASIR has grown and
strengthened with a regular exchange of speakers and trainers to share and
develop skills amongst its member nations.
SEASIR was formed following a meeting held in Bali, Indonesia on 7th Sept 2002. Dr Prijo Sidipratomo from Indonesia was the founding
president. To date six business meetings have been held. We are currently
developing a modest website hosted by the Thailand Society of Interventional
Radiology . There is still a long way for interventional radiology in the
SEA region to reach the levels of its bigger and older regional siblings e.g. Korea, Japan and India. Hopefully from these modest beginnings, we will be able to lay a good
foundation for our future fellow interventional radiologists to grow this
specialty and bring it to its rightful place, which is among the leaders in
medical practice in the region.
Amidst this complex and challenging background, this
special issue aims to recognise those early pioneers, chart the course of
interventional radiology, view the current status, and explore the future
direction and potential challenges facing interventional radiology within the
different countries of ASEAN. This sharing of experiences and approaches would
assist others to learn from our experiences so that the practice of
interventional radiology can be enhanced for the betterment of the communities
we work and live in.
We take this opportunity to thank the leaders in
interventional radiology who have driven us thus far and the contributors who
have made this issue a success.
ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA). APPENDIX I: Roadmap for Integration of Healthcare Sector [Online]. Available at http://www.aseansec.org/16716.htm. (Accessed 15 June 2009).
Thailand Society of Interventional Radiology [Online]. Available at http://www.thaivir.org/eng/mess_secretary.php. (Accessed 25 June 2009).
|Received 24 July 2009; accepted 24 July 2009
Correspondence: Department of Biomedical Imaging, Faculty of Medicine, University of Malaya, 50603 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Tel.: +603-79492069; Fax: +603-79581973; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org (Basri J.J. Abdullah).
Please cite as: Abdullah BJJ,
South East Asian Society of Interventional Radiology (SEASIR): state and future of radiology in interventional radiology, Biomed Imaging Interv J 2009; 5(4):e26