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Take heart, skip live surgeries
- Year-end cardiac conference to go without demo workshops

The ghost of 1997 is still haunting them and the last thing they can afford is an action replay.

Come December and Calcutta will see national and international faculty of cardiac surgeons and cardiologists putting their heads — not scalpels — together over the latest developments in the field of cardiology. For, they must be content with only theory classes, as the Cardiological Society of India (CSI) has said ‘no’ to “live surgical workshops” during the conference.

When the CSI had organised a similar conference in December 1997, a doctor had died from complications during a surgical intervention at a “live” workshop. “The incident was unfortunate, and it’s sad that she (the doctor) died from complications. The decision of dropping live workshops has been taken by the executive committee because in the recent past, surgeons have been found to conduct such surgeries hastily and not achieve the desired results,” said the organising secretary of CSI 2003 and SSKM Hospital cardiologist Ashok Kar.

So, any young cardiac surgeon attending the conference to catch some of the big names at work “live”, must, instead, watch various vascular interventions and angioplasty procedures recorded on compact discs. City-based cardiac surgeons have cried foul over the CSI stricture, saying that at a time when Paris and Washington — the two most prestigious venues for cardiac conferences — are calling for more “live workshops” to benefit young doctors, Calcutta has taken a step backwards.

“This is really bad news, because live workshops provide opportunities for youngsters to pick up tips from the masters. This is a golden opportunity lost for them to learn new techniques. I have been travelling all over the world and everywhere, live workshops seem to be encouraged,” says cardiac surgeon Ajay Kaul. Abhirup Sen, a young cardiologist, adds: “I was looking forward to this opportunity to learn from the masters, so this is definitely sad news.”

There are some cardiac surgeons, however, who feel that live workshops are being overdone. “Certain procedures, like angioplasty, no longer an exclusive issue, are still being undertaken in workshops, putting patients at risk,” says cardiac surgeon Kunal Sarkar.

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