Different cultures, different history, different physicians, different patients, different treatments. At the European Association of Urology (EAU) annual meeting, the differences are evident around every corner. Those differences are some of the things that make the journey of an American product manager to EAU that much more exciting. Whether visiting palaces, soccer stadiums, museums, archways, or booths in the main hall of the convention center (and also hearing physician presentations), the EAU 2015 meeting in Madrid, Spain, was not one that will soon be forgotten.
The importance of large meetings, such as the EAU, AUA, and WCE annual meetings, is something that certainly cannot be downplayed. In this case, EAU provides a platform for a mass meeting of the minds. These meetings allow physicians to connect with their peers and to connect with the industry in a way that is conducive to continuing to improve patient healthcare worldwide. Physicians connect with their peers through presenting research findings and continuing education events. They also connect with the industry through collaboration in their research or simply from exploring the newest and greatest innovations to come to the market that are being highlighted at company booths.
Among the highlights of our booth, Cook showcased a new product, the Flexor® Vue™ Deflecting Endoscopic System, a novel device combining the access component of a traditional access sheath with the vision and deflection components of a regular endoscope. With the introduction of this product, a physician now has the capability to perform an entire stone removal procedure using only Cook products. The new percutaneous stone extractors were also displayed. With the additions of the Perc NGage® and Perc NCompass® to the already popular Perc NCircle® Nitinol Stone Extractor line, Cook continues to provide a plethora of options to help a procedure go as smoothly as possible.
From a non-physician perspective, and aside from the obvious interest in sightseeing, the research presentations are one of the most interesting pieces of the entire large meeting experience. Physician presentations cover a vast array of urological topics, which is outstanding as an avenue for physicians to improve their craft, but also is equally as important for physicians and industry leaders such as Cook. They can spark new innovations and ideas for new products or reinforce the validity in current development projects that will allow us to better serve our patients. This year, broad topic discussions included the identification of men at a high risk for prostate cancer, prostate biopsy techniques and outcomes, what it truly means to be “stone free,” medical management of urinary stones, and advancements in ureteroscopic and/or percutaneous stone removal procedures. The topic that has gained a lot of acceptance in the last couple years and that garnered the most buzz at EAU 2015 certainly was mini, ultra-mini, and micro perc procedures. In these procedures, physicians are utilizing increasingly smaller instruments to gain access to the urinary tract and use a laser to break urinary stones into microscopic particles capable of natural passage. Typically, these procedures focus on stones 1-2 cm in size and claim higher stone-free rates, lower mortality rates, and shorter hospital stay duration over conventional ureteroscopic or percutaneous procedures.
Despite the poor weather, EAU 2015 was a wonderful experience overall and one to be remembered. Whether reminiscing about classic architecture, historical sites, or modern advancements and innovations shared, the meeting provided an avenue to enhance the lives of physicians, the industry, and patients alike. We can easily get stuck in the routine of normal day-to-day activity and be hesitant to change, but the prevalence of impactful people and large meetings such as this one shows us that sometimes differences are pretty great after all.
Global Product Manager – Urology