By Aristeidis H. Katsanos
It was a great honor for me to be awarded with the European Academy of Neurology Research Experience Fellowship. During my Fellowship I was for six months (January 2019 to June 2019) at the Department of Neurology, St. Josef-Hospital, Ruhr University of Bochum, Bochum, Germany to perform the project “Transorbital Sonography in patients with Optic Neuritis”.
The primary aim of my research project was to evaluate the utility of transorbital sonography (TOS) in the identification of patients with acute optic neuritis (ON) and history of central demyelinating diseases. As secondary endpoints I investigated further the potential disparities in TOS findings according to the history of previous ON and explored the association of TOS measurements with both clinical parameters and other laboratory tests, including optical coherence tomography (OCT) and visual evoked potentials (VEPs). The specific aim of this protocol was to account for all available clinical parameters that could impact the diagnostic utility of TOS as a diagnostic tool for the identification of patients with acute ON, and which were not properly assessed in previous studies.
As predefined by sample size calculation, 78 patients with history of multiple sclerosis (MS) or neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder (NMOSD) were recruited from the Outpatient Clinic of the Department of Neurology at St. Josef-Hospital, Ruhr University of Bochum, Germany. The preliminary study results will be presented at the “43. DREILÄNDERTREFFEN DER DEGUM, ÖGUM, SGUM” that will take place in October 2019 in Leipzig, Germany, while the complete results have been submitted for publication and are currently under peer-review in Neurology.
Apart from taking part in the aforementioned research protocol I had the privilege to train further in Neurosonology by the DEGUM level-III accredited instructor PD Dr. med. Christos Krogias, acquiring new skills in various ultrasonographic techniques (intracranial and extracranial vascular ultrasound, right-to-left shunt detection, TOS, B-mode brain parenchyma evaluation, nerve and muscle ultrasound examinations). During my 6-month stay I had the opportunity to attend 5 DEGUM courses, two of them organized in Bochum by PD Dr. med. Christos Krogias, which expanded even further my knowledge on Neurosonology.
Beside my research project and training in the Ultrasound Laboratory, I actively participated in the everyday clinical routine of the Comprehensive Supra-regional Stroke Unit led by PD Dr. med. Christos Krogias (photos) and became familiar with the highest and innovative level of stroke care provided by the team of the Stroke Unit. I have also been very privileged to attend the weekly rounds of the Neurovascular Network of the Ruhr University of Bochum, a multidisciplinary physician meeting consisting of Neurologists, Neuroradiologists, Neurosurgeons and Vascular Surgeons from the Ruhr University, to discuss challenging stroke cases. I also had the great honor to collaborate with the Northwest-German Stroke Circle e.V. (PD Dr. med. Christos Krogias, PD Dr. med. Ralph Weber, Prof. Dr. med. Jens Eyding, Dr. rer. Nat. Dirk Bartig) and the pioneer of stroke care Prof. Dr. med. Werner Hacke in two research projects on the epidemiology of stroke care in Germany, which are both currently under consideration in peer-reviewed Medical Journals.
Moreover, I had the unique opportunity to follow closely the handling of patients with Multiple Sclerosis by the Director of the Department of Neurology at the St. Josef-Hospital and well-renowned expert in the field of Multiple Sclerosis Prof. Dr. med. Ralf Gold and his team. Since I was able to attend all meetings and presentations of faculty members and invited speakers, I became privileged of understanding the approaches and decision-making process followed in an advanced Multiple Sclerosis Center to deal with the most difficult cases of the disease.
During my 6-month stay I was also able to improve my knowledge in German language and come in touch with people and culture of this beautiful area of Germany. Thanks to this Fellowship from the European Academy of Neurology, I had the opportunity to spend six months in the beautiful city of Bochum, gaining invaluable experiences and enjoying really every moment of my staying.
I would like to express my sincere appreciation to Prof. Dr. med. Ralf Gold and PD Dr. med. Christos Krogias for accepting me in Bochum and for giving me the opportunity to work in this project. I would like to express my gratitude to all those people in the Department and who made me feel comfortable and welcome during these months. Especially, I would like to thank Dr. med. Christoph Schroeder for his help and guidance during the project and the technical assistants of the Ultrasound Laboratory Mrs. Gabi Wischniewski and Mrs. Erika Trimborn for all their help and hospitality.