marc_vandevelde.jpgInterview with Marc Van de Velde

Tell us about your professional background

I'm an anaesthesiologist by training, I've been a consultant anaesthetist since 1997. After several years of experience, my professional career has moved on from being a consultant anaesthetist in the University Hospital of Louvain, to Chair of the Department in 2010. During my years as a consultant anaesthetist, I've completed and finalized my PhD thesis on myocardial stunning; "Metabolic Support of the Stunned Myocardium" (in 2000). Thus, since 2000 I've also practiced as a professor in anaesthesia at the Catholic University in Louvain.


How did you get involved with ESRA?

As an Obstetric Anaesthetist, I've always been interested in Regional Anaesthesia and Central Neuraxial Blocks. As a result of my interest in Central Neuraxial Blocks I became involved in the Belgian Association of Regional Anaesthesia, which represents ESRA in Belgium. In 2005 I've been elected as the official Belgian representative and since have been involved with the board of ESRA. In 2009 I've been elected as the ESRA president.


What are the 'Hot Topics' in regional anaesthesia in Europe today?

In regards to hot topics, I think that everything related to ultrasound and ultrasound guidance are the hottest fields in Regional Anaesthesia today. This is because a lot of research still has to be done in order to prove that ultrasound really does improve our practice. Most anaesthetists' believe that it has, but there is definitely room for additional well-designed studies to be delivered as proof. Another hot topic today, is how Regional Anaesthesia can assist in improving the peri-operative outcome of patients. What I mean is, not only the acute intra and immediately post-operation pain relief, but long term pain relief in addition to other parameters of outcome; inflammation, cancer recurrence, and speed of discharge from the hospital. So the topic really discusses how Regional Anaesthesia can be used as part of an integrated peri-operative approach to the patient.

An additional topic I think is chronic pain management. This topic is an important aspect of Regional Anaesthesia and it is getting a lot of attention in Europe and the European commission as well.


How does the ESRA 2014 Scientific Programme reflect these hot topics?

As the hot topics I've mentioned above are important in today's world of Regional Anaesthesia, we have added many workshops related to these hot topics, and are trying to increase the number of ultrasound guided workshops and demonstrations on volunteers and cadavers. The programme has definitely increased its focus on ultrasound. We have also incorporated in the programme many aspects related to chronic pain management and aspects related to peri-operative outcomes. I truly think that today's most significant fields are represented well in the ESRA scientific programme. That being said, we do not forget the classical sessions that ESRA respects and delivers from year to year. Altogether, this year's scientific programme will have a nice mix of new and significant sessions as well as the classical ESRA sessions that we all look forward to.


Why is it important to have the ESRA 2014 in Spain? 

We have chosen Spain for a variety of reasons. Firstly, the Spanish regional anaesthesia group is a large group, with many ESRA members, that is highly respected and very active. Secondly, ESRA has always tried to geographically move from a northern location to a southern location. Last year we were in Glasgow, so now we have decided on moving south to Seville. Thirdly, with the economic situation in Europe, ESRA feels it is our obligation and responsibility to support these countries, such as Spain, where economic difficulties have struck.


What do you think are the main benefits of participating in ESRA 2014?

As always the classical recipe of ESRA has been that it is a focused meeting on Regional Anaesthesia and Pain Therapy. We have a good number of participants and the size of the ESRA meetings allow each participant the ability to choose the best educational experience that fits his/her needs. ESRA has the perfect combination of practical workshops, theoretical workshops, and good networking opportunities and programme.


Can you give us a short introduction to the session you will be giving?

I will be giving a few talks about topics that are mostly related to obstetric anaesthesia. One topic is "how labour anaesthesia should be initiated? CSE or epidural?". This is an old debate, and yet, it is still ongoing. The session is highly relevant for anaesthetists' that are involved with obstetric anaesthesia, and it will be an interesting session, with room for debate and discussion. Another topic that I will present will be "the use of chloroprocaine for epidural use during emergency caesarean section", this is an exciting topic as chloroprocaine is a new drug (an old drug but newly commercialized in Europe) and it will only come out to the European market in 2014 or 2015. This new drug has great potential for unplanned emergency caesarean sections, which is why I feel it is necessary to have a discussion on the topic. I will also lead a discussion on "how to test the epidural block for patients undergoing a C-section". Some patients undergoing a C-section complain of pain when they receive an epidural, we of course need to prevent this pain, and one of the ways to do so is to test the block adequately, , and I personally will give a lecture and demonstrate on how to test the block and thus reduce pain. The final topic I will lecture on is also in "labour analgesia. In certain countries like the Netherlands and UK, as well as other regions, more and more midwives are starting to give patient controlled intravenous anaesthesia drugs". I will discuss the pros and cons of this use, and give my arguments as well as recommendations on this growing practice.


What recommendations can you give to ESRA participants in order for them to make the most of ESRA 2014?

I would recommend participants to register early to the congress as well as plan in advance, especially for workshops. The workshops are highly popular and are usually sold out quite quickly. I will also recommend participants to take advantage and participate in the social events, as networking is an important aspect of the congress and should not be over looked.

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