A famous Leonardo statue in Piazza La Scala located in downtown Milan opposite a famous theatre
It was mid summer of 2006 and I was on a flight bound to Milan. It was to be a learning visit for me, not in the fashion sense but rather to see the Nuclear Medicine establishment at a hospital in Milan, Italy. I came to hear of this hospital last year while attending a conference at Islamabad.
Ospedale Niguarda Hospital at downtown Milan, was formerly known as Ospedale Maggiore Hospital. It was built in the year 1456 and while under operation, had undergone a series of evolution and building works that were finally completed in 1700. In 1932 work was underway again to build an even larger hospital and in 1939 when construction was complete, the hospital was renamed Ospedale Maggiore Ca’Granda Niguarda and bears this name till today. It has a 1000-bed capacity, the largest hospital in Milan with teaching affiliations to a few universities in Milan, particularly University Bicocca.
Varied multi specialities are available in this hospital and it is also a National referral centre for poisoning, solid organ transplantation (namely heart, lung, liver and kidneys), cardiology, cardiothoracic surgery, haematology and oncology. The first heart transplant in Italy had been carried out in this hospital 30 years ago and the transplant statistics has been kept up year after year. In 2005, 35 heart transplants and 85 liver transplants were carried out.
The Radiology department is well equipped with 2 MRI machines. There’s also a 64 multislice CT scanner dedicated for cardiac studies. The Radiotherapy Department already has 4 linear accelerators and is in the process of installing another 2 additional high performance machine. The main field of treatment in this center is for thyroid and liver cancer followed by MIBG therapy.
The nuclear medicine department was started in 1961 and it is the first nuclear medicine unit in Milan. At the moment, it is run by 5 nuclear medicine specialists and 1 clinical director and 2 residents. At present, this department is equipped with 3 double headed gamma camera, 2 single headed and 1 PET CT (Siemens ). They had performed 1300 PET-CT studies last year and it is increasing yearly. The waiting period for this examination is about 20 days. One CT-SPECT (Symbia by Siemens) is currently being installed. All conventional diagnostic nuclear medicine procedures are also available in this department. There’s also a special 6 bedded ward in a controlled area for post radiometabolic care.
Although most clinicians there could converse in English, knowing the Italian language most definitely is an added advantage. Though handicapped by my lack of proficiency or rather total handicap in this matter, I was able to get along well with the various levels of staff working there. It was an enjoyable time for me, meeting new friends, learning new advancements as short as it may be. New friendships were made and forged. It was indeed a valuable learning trip for me.
Front view of Ospedale Maggiore Ca’Granda Niguarda
Nuclear Medicine in Malaysia has been around for some time, but has not taken off and kept up with developments as it has in many other parts of the world. Various tests, investigations and treatment modalities that are available in Europe and USA have not yet reached our shores. Associations with various established set ups such as the one I visited in Milan in the form of training arrangements will enhance further the development of Nuclear Medicine in Malaysia. Fostering goodwill and having fellowship programmes in such places will be advantageous for future expansions in Nuclear Medicine.
We have indeed been looking too long to countries such as the United Kingdom, USA and Australia for medical training. All are good but there’s more out there then what we see in these other countries that we are regularly sending trainees to. A lot of good work, expertise, technological advancement and skill enhancing courses and training posts are available in other lesser known places in Europe or even Asia. It was indeed an eye opener to me and how true it is that at times a place is made famous rather by the articles published in major journals. But for every famous hospital, there are many more hospitals in many other lesser known places in the medical map that offer such astounding and equally impressive if not better service and expertise. This hospital in Milan, Italy is a good place for various postgraduate training not only in the field of Nuclear Medicine but also in fields such as transplant surgery, haematology and cardiology.
If this article has sparked any interest in the field of your interest, for more information you can log on to the official website of this hospital at www.ospedaleniguarda.it. There is more there than just fast cars, Giorgio Armani’s collections and pizzas.
|© 2001-2008 College of Radiology, Academy of Medicine of Malaysia. |
last updated Thursday, 19 October 2006