NH Gent Belfort Hotel, Ghent, Belgium 22-24th June 2018
Annabel Greenwood ST3 Trainee, Wales Deanery
The 4th INAC was held in the beautiful and charming city of Ghent, Belgium. The INAC was established to provide a global platform for neonatologists and budding-neonatologists across the world to come together and share their work on the recent advances in neonatal medicine.
This year’s meeting was hosted by the Belgian Society of Neonatal Medicine, led by their President, Professor Filip Cools. An exciting programme was awaited, packed full of brilliant talks delivered by highly esteemed neonatologists, and included a showcase of diverse abstracts from all over the world. Delegates attended from over 50 countries across five continents.
The conference itself was perfectly situated, set upon a quaint cobbled street, running alongside the iconic canal that winds its way through the vibrant city.
From a personal perspective, I was extremely excited to present my work on organ donation on an international stage. Organ donation in neonatal medicine remains a fairly new concept, and I felt privileged to have the opportunity to fly the flag for organ donation, raising awareness and sharing my knowledge and experiences with others at such a prestigious event.
I was fortunate enough to be joined by my colleague and friend, Dr Chris Course, on the trip, who was presenting the WREN Project we collaborated on with Dr Zoe Howard, on postnatal antibiotic use across Wales. Our project fitted in perfectly with one of the principal themes of the conference, namely antibiotic stewardship.
There was a particular emphasis on neonatal neurology over the course of the weekend, and it was fascinating to learn of the latest developments in such a complex and challenging field. Professor Jose Honold discussed the concept of a ‘Neuro NICU’, a collaborative approach between neurologists, neonatologists, radiologists, neurosurgeons, neurophysiologists, and specially trained neonatal neurology nurses, using specialised equipment to optimise the management of conditions such as high grade IVH, meningitis and encephalitis, seizures, HIE, and those with congenital cerebral malformations.
Another highlight was learning about the recent advances in neonatal lung ultrasound by Dr Luigi Cattarossi, to help guide the diagnosis and management of a number of lung diseases including RDS, TTN, pneumonia and pneumothoracies. This quick and focused bedside diagnostic approach has been shown to be as reliable as CXR in demonstrating lung pathology, resulting in less exposure to radiation for the neonate.
It was also of great interest to learn about the challenges faced in neonatal medicine in developing countries, and demonstrated the importance of the implementation of simple interventions e.g. bubble CPAP, in making a huge difference in the survival of preterm infants with respiratory distress.
Aside from the conference, there was plenty of time to relax and explore the local delights of Ghent. The city was electric as fans set-up camp in the square to cheer-on their country in the Football World Cup! I certainly enjoyed sampling the local delicacies, Belgian waffles being a particular highlight!
As the weekend drew to a close, I reflected on what had been a truly fantastic conference. The INAC 2018 provided an excellent platform for learning and certainly inspired new project proposals and ideas to take back to Wales! Next year's conference is planned to be in Tijuana, Mexico with a pre-conference in San Diego, so a little further afield, but another couple of top destinations for sure!