Today we cannot imagine head and neck treatment without some form of digital planning, especially for complex cases. However, developments in digital planning and associated technologies is still in its relative infancy; they were only just starting to gain popularity in major units for maxillofacial and craniofacial reconstruction around the world in the mid 1990s.
These early adopter groups formed collaborations, but found no forum where they could meet, present and publish on the subject of advanced digital technologies in head and neck reconstruction. In parallel, the mid 1990s and early 2000s were a rapid period of computer technology, hardware and software development and commercial companies were struggling to find new avenues for application and bring their innovations to peoples’ attention. Medical applications of technology were an obvious, high value and rewarding way to promote technological capability.
In this climate, John Wolfaardt (Edmonton, Canada) and Adrian Sugar (Swansea, Wales, UK) made the decision to host an exploratory meeting by inviting a small group to meet with industry representatives to discuss how future development should be approached. In March, 2002 they hosted the first international meeting on advanced digital technologies (ADT) in reconstruction of the head and neck.
The Misericordia Hospital, in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada was the first venue. The groups in Edmonton, and Swansea invited several other important pioneers in this field including Professor Rainer Schmelzeisen (Albert-Ludwigs-University, Freiburg, Germany), Dr Robert van Oort (University Medical Centre Groningen, the Netherlands), Dr Henk Verdonck and Dr Jules Poukens (University of Maastricht, Maastricht, The Netherlands), Dr Richard Bibb (PDR, Cardiff, Wales), Mr Peter Evans and Mr Alan Bocca (Morriston Hospital, Swansea, Wales), Ms Rosemary Seelaus (iRSM, Edmonton, Canada). The meeting in Edmonton had intended to be a small gathering, but was closed at over 100 participants. After a successful program, the meeting ended with a decision to proceed with a 2nd international conference.
The 2nd International ADT meeting was held at the Banff Springs Hotel and Conference Centre in 2005. The meeting was attended by some 250 international delegates and over 20 industry partners. The Banff conference was characterized by the remarkable rate of development and convergence of advanced digital technology application in head and neck reconstruction. It was also evident that health technology assessment, ethics, health economics, materials and other germane subjects were as important to consider as the digital technology itself. With the success of the Banff conference, the decision of the conference body was to proceed to the 3rd international ADT 2008 conference in Cardiff, Wales.
The 3rd conference was hosted by Adrian Sugar and his team. Again, the number of participants and industry partners exceeded the venue capacity. The Cardiff conference was marked by the rapid advances made by surgical applications and technology diversity from Europe. Freiburg, Germany was selected as the conference venue for ADT 2011, to be invested by Professor Dr Rainer Schmelzeisen.
The ADT conference program had grown far beyond the original founding members and developed into a truly international, multidisciplinary and inclusive organisation. The 2014 ADT International conference was hosted by Professor Guo Chuan-bin and the Peking University School of Stomatology, Beijing, China and helped identify and explore the future role of innovative digital technologies in reconstruction of the head and neck.
In 2017, the ADT had matured to a point where development of a sustaining and supporting structure was required to coordinate the broadening international activities of conference programs, research opportunities and industry collaboration. With wide consultation and advice, ADT Foundation was therefore formed. This coincided with the International conference returning to Europe, with the 6th Triennial International Conference in Amiens, France organised by Sylvie Testelin and her team at the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire d'Amiens.
The most recent international conference was hosted in Tokyo, Japan by Professor Masayuki Takano, Vice Director of Tokyo Dental College Suidobashi Hospital. As with each of the conferences, radical new innovations were presented, discussed and new collaborations were formed that would ensure these will be translated into clinical practice across the world.
Success of the international conference program has also spawned regional ADT groups in China, Japan, the UK, Scandinavia and North America, with others currently being developed. Each regional group has hosted their own conference and workshop program, which has enabled an even greater breadth of collaboration and increased the number of people involved with researching, developing and applying ADT in their practices.
Rapid technological developments and the input from the breadth of disciplines and industry partners had made each ADT conference remarkable. The international and regional conferences are structured to be broadly based in all aspects of care related to the head and neck. They involve a wide range of disciplines such as surgery, dentistry, rehabilitation medicine, diagnostic imaging, and radiation oncology, computing science, computer engineering, materials science, health technology assessment, health economics, basic sciences, and ethics. Industry have also played a fundamental role and are directly involved through workshops, showcases and in the lecture program together with clinicians and researchers. The consequence is that industry is involved not merely as exhibitors, but as important participants in the conference proceedings. The intent is that the meetings are generators of innovation and a platform to envision the future.
The ADT Foundation is a truly global forum of expertise and knowledge-sharing that reflects the history and future of innovation. We look forward to working with you to achieve our mission to connect, educate and inspire all disciplines interested in the development and application of advanced digital technologies in head and neck reconstruction toward improved outcomes and access to care.
This is our history, join our future here.