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  • Part 18: The Dallas Experience

  • The near cancellation of the RSNA Scientific Assembly in 1979 made many Society leaders recognize the importance of offering educational opportunities year round. The RSNA Educational Materials Library of slides and audiotapes based on selected annual meeting sessions had been growing steadily since its establishment in 1973. In 1980, the Board of Directors decided to accelerate the expansion of the Educational Materials Library by printing an annual catalog and by appointing Philadelphia radiologist William J. Tuddenham, M.D., as editor of educational materials.

    Meanwhile, the field of radiology continued to expand. The June 1980 issue of Radiology featured nine papers outlining the history and current applications of percutaneous transluminal angioplasty. The September issue included four articles with magnetic resonance images of animals and humans. To make radiologic information more accessible, RSNA initiated the publication of a five-year cumulative index of articles in Radiology and eight other major publications in the field and included it as part of the Radiology subscription.

    By 1999, 40 major publications were indexed. Beginning with articles from 2000, the index was offered online only. Currently 42 publications are included.

    Unexpected Frustrations 

    After the annual meeting in Atlanta, the RSNA Board of Directors was understandably anxious about the 66th Scientific Assembly to be held at the Dallas Convention Center. But Dallas was not experiencing the same crime problems that had plagued Atlanta. A meeting in Texas promised warm weather and a pleasant environment; however, that promise went unfulfilled.

    A few weeks before the 1980 meeting, a hurricane disrupted the usual late-November weather patterns in the United States. Texas experienced days of torrential rains. The rains were followed by an unseasonable cold spell. Consequently, during the weekend in which the RSNA meeting began, snow fell in Dallas. Simultaneously, Midwest cities such as Chicago and Detroit basked in balmy September-like temperatures.

    Further, bus drivers in Dallas chose the week of the RSNA meeting to go on strike for better working conditions. Replacement bus drivers were brought in to transport RSNA meeting attendees between their hotels and the convention center. Unfortunately, many replacement drivers were not familiar with the layout of Dallas streets and location of landmarks. More than once, a bus full of radiologists circled the city while the driver looked for the convention center. A rumor circulating among meeting attendees was that one bus full of RSNA members had been spotted in Fort Worth 30 miles away.

    Another problem with Dallas was the difficulty in locating a taxi. In the evening, meeting attendees took taxis to restaurants at the fringe of the city only to find that after dinner, they couldn't find taxis to take them back to their hotels. Restaurant managers frequently telephoned for taxis, but the wait was up to an hour.

    Meeting Events 

    The Scientific Assembly itself was notable for many reasons. The Program Committee had scheduled important sessions during the latter half of the week to balance a meeting that previously seemed to feature its most important papers and lectures during the first few days. William S. Moore, Ph.D., gave the New Horizons lecture titled "Nuclear Magnetic Resonance: Past, Present and Future." Godfrey Hounsfield, D.Sc., who had developed computed tomography nearly a decade before, received the Society's Gold Medal. In addition, for the first time, three commercially available videoangiographic systems were on display.

    Meanwhile, technical exhibitors were competing aggressively on the exhibit floor for the attention of the passing radiologist. Members of the Board of Directors were distraught by the many gifts being given by exhibitors—from pencils and mugs to calendars and buttons that advertised manufacturers' products—creating an atmosphere similar to the midway of a county fair. Also, many exhibitors had hired models who wore bathing suits or evening gowns to present new radiographic equipment. RSNA soon developed codes of conduct that required the technical exhibitors to maintain a sense of decorum during the annual meeting.

    After the Scientific Assembly ended, new RSNA President Milton Elkin, M.D., who had been chairman of the Board during the crisis involving the 1979 meeting in Atlanta, believed the Society's Scientific Assembly could not be held in Dallas again. When Dallas city officials learned RSNA would not return in 1984, they charged the Society with breach of contract and threatened to sue.

    Unfortunately, Chicago's McCormick Place was already booked for 1984, but a new convention center was being built in Washington, D.C. RSNA leaders planned to hold the Scientific Assembly there. Meanwhile, many Society members were looking forward to the next three annual meetings back in Chicago.

    Reference 

    1. Stewart DA. Personal communication. November 1980.
    William J. Tuddenham, M.D. RSNA's first editor of educational materials
    Milton Elkin, M.D. 1981 RSNA President