It was an honor to represent the ASNR in Myanmar through the Anne G. Osborn International Outreach Professor Program this year. It gave me the opportunity to travel to this wonderful country in South East Asia to share a unique educational and cultural experience with the radiologists and radiology residents from the 3 academic programs in Yangon.
The first week in Yangon, Myanmar’s commercial and intellectual hub, I spent four days teaching at No.(2) Military Hospital, a 500-bed teaching hospital and one day at No.(1) Defence Services General Hospital, a 1000-bed hospital where I lectured and interacted with approximately 120 radiology residents from the Defence Services Medical Academy (DSMA), from University of Medicine (1) and from University of Medicine (2).
Each day, I gave an average of five didactic lectures plus one or two case-based presentations. The lectures covered a wide range of topics including CNS infection, spine infection and its mimics, cord imaging, brachial plexus MRI, head & neck trauma, non-traumatic head & neck emergencies, stroke and non-traumatic intracranial hemorrhage, the unconscious patient in the ED, white matter disease, imaging strategy in brain tumors, sellar and parasellar tumors, brain metastases, spinal tumors and cognitive errors in neuroradiology among others. The lectures were usually followed by a session of challenging, often unknown cases, brought by the radiology residents, local radiologists and neurosurgeons; a session that often led to interesting discussions. At the time of my visit, a brand new 1.5T MRI scanner had been recently installed at No.(2) Military Hospital, which gave us the opportunity to discuss and tailor MR protocols predominantly related to cord and brachial plexus imaging. We also discussed the importance of including MR perfusion and spectroscopy in their brain tumor protocol.
Professor Lin Tun Tun, former President of the Myanmar Radiology Society and the liaison with the ASNR, Professor Col. Daw Mi Mi Lwin from DSMA, Professor Col.Kyaw Zaya, Deputy Commandant of No (2) Military Hospital, Lt. Col. Daw Ohnmar Hlaing from DSMA and Dr. Myo Min Zin were all wonderful hosts and made me feel at home. Everyday at lunch time, in between lectures, I tried different traditional dishes including tea leaf salad and various Burmese-style curries. Some days ended with dinner at a nice restaurant where I tried different specialties of Myanmar’s traditional cuisine such as Shan-style noodle and the famous Mohinga, their “unofficial” national dish that consists of rice noodle served in a thick fish-based broth, both of which are simply delicious! Other nights, I enjoyed the company of my gracious hosts in some of Yangon’s famous teahouses, where I was introduced to my new favorite “lapae-ya” tea, a combination of black tea, evaporated milk and condensed milk. I was able to visit the famous Shwedagon Paya and enjoyed a stroll along the shore of Kandawgyi Lake.
After a week in Yangon, I traveled to Inle Lake, a beautiful lake with floating gardens where fishermen have a unique way of rowing their boats with their legs. I was also able to meet women from the enigmatic Kayan tribe, one the most recognisable ethnic groups in Myanmar, as they wear brass rings around their necks. I then traveled to Mandalay where I visited the famous Kuthodaw Pagoda and the Golden Palace Monastery with its exquisite wood carvings. Finally, I visited the ancient kingdom of Bagan, a majestic place where temples and pagodas build between the 11th and 13th centuries are scattered across the plains. Catching a sunset from one the hills overlooking the temples and participating in the Festival of Lights (Thadingyut) were additional highlights of the trip.
I am extremely grateful to have been given the opportunity to travel to Myanmar to represent the ASNR through the Anne G. Osborn International Outreach Professor Program. A beautiful country with wonderful people! I believe the visit has been mutually beneficial and I hope has contributed to the educational experience of the next generation of radiologists in the country. I have no doubt it will result in long-lasting relationships and future collaborations.
Carlos Torres, MD, FRCPC
Associate Professor of Radiology, University of Ottawa
Ottawa, ON, Canada