July 2016 • Volume 9, No. 7


From the Editor

Since you, our dear readers, are mostly current or aspiring RNFAs – folks who shine in the suturing department – we usually feature surgeries that involve longer incisions and more sutures than some artery procedures require.

But percutaneous coronary angioplasty (PTCA), in which a surgeon inserts a balloon catheter into a narrowed portion of an artery and then expands the balloon to reduce the blockage, is one of the most common OR procedures in hospitals in the US today.

In this issue we look at PTCA and some other procedures for working with blocked arteries, such as atherectomy, in which a surgeon inserts a specialized catheter containing a sharp rotating blade, grinding bit, or laser filament to dislodge plaque from the wall of the vessel and collect it.

Our Student in the Spotlight this month is Bridget Burbach, RN, from Tomah, WI.

Read on for news, videos, a brand new crossword puzzle, jobs we’ve created for you, and links to some of NIFA’s favorite RNFA resources.

Happy reading.

Julie Lancaster

Julie Lancaster, Editor

It’s All in the Wrist
In an article from the University of Chicago Newsroom, interventional cardiologist Sandeep Nathan, MD, MSc, an expert in transradial angiography at the University, discusses the procedure. Transradial angiography reduces the risk of bleeding and improves post-procedure recovery when compared to traditional femoral artery catheterization. Read more…

Too Much Angioplasty
Every year, more than one million stents are inserted in people in the U.S. to open up blocked coronary arteries. This Consumer Reports article claims only 87% of those are vital, and that the other 13% of patients have undergone unnecessary surgery. Additionally, some researchers have argued for nearly a decade that angioplasty only saves lives if done immediately after a heart attack.  Read more…

Lighting The Way
This article from the Pittsburg Post-Gazettefocuses on a team of vascular surgeons testing the use of optical coherence tomography to light the path of their work.   Possibly a safer alternative to other catheter-based plaque-removal tools, a catheter creates a small channel through a completely blocked vessel, then cleans out the blockage and stores the material in a chamber at the end of the catheter for removal. Read more…

For an overview of commonly used atherectomy devices read this technology update from Louisiana State University. Read more…


Webinars and Seminars – Johns Hopkins Heart & Vascular Institute
Johns Hopkins Medicine Heart & Vascular Institute offers webinars and seminars on a variety of related topics from Catheter Ablation of Atrial Fibrillation to Cholesterol: The Good, The Bad, & The UglyEach session is presented by a specialists and includes procedure overviews with video and insight from the experts.  Watch now…

Inside the OR: Peripheral Angiogram
Dr. Mark Grabarczyk with Upstate Cardiology performs a peripheral angiogram at Bon Secours St. Francis Health System. Throughout the video, Dr. Grabarczyk provides a detailed description of the procedure, including the methodology behind it. Watch now…


Perioperative Puzzle: Arteries and Stents

rnfa_crosswordTest your knowledge of Angioplasty, Atherectomy, and Stenting Surgery with this month’s crossword puzzle.

When you’re ready to check your answers, follow this link to see how well you did. Good luck!



Student Spotlight: Bridget Burbach

bridget_burbachName: Bridget Burbach

Current position: Surgical circulating RN at a critical access hospital with two ORs.

Where did you get your RN degree?  Viterbo University, LaCrosse, WI.

Why did you choose perioperative nursing?Surgery is one area of nursing that has always fascinated me. After several years of Cardiac, ICU, and Med/Surg nursing, I transferred into our surgery department.

What is the scariest moment you’ve ever seen at the table? The scariest moment was when I was called in for an emergency C-section and the baby’s heart rate continued to decline. The CRNA put mom under with general anesthesia and it only took two minutes to deliver the baby. I have never seen a surgeon cut through an abdomen so quickly.

What was the outcome? As far as l know, baby recovered well and there were no complications for mom.

What is one technique or RNFA trick you’ve learned from NIFA that you will use for life? Troy taught me a trick to quickly get a “near/far” strand when tying suture does not naturally lay out with a near/far. He taught me to take one of the strands with my little finger and grab the other with my other hand; this then creates a “near/far” so that I can accurately tie my suture.

How do you feel having your RNFA will impact your life/career?  Having my RNFA will make my career more fulfilling. I have always wanted to be at the table, working directly with the surgeon, and after taking the NIFA course and attending the Suture Star Workshop, I can honestly say that I am prepared to move up to my next challenge.



Click here for the RNFA job postings we’ve collected for you this month.


NIFA – Office Hours

Monday-Friday 8:00am – 4:00pm

Practice Resources

Here are several of the most-in-demand sites for our students, prospective students and grads:

ACS Surgery News: Specialty News and Commentaries, Videos and More
AORN Legislative Map: What’s Happening in My State
RNFA Scope of Practice by State (PDF)
ACS List of Cases that Require an Assistant at Surgery, 2016 (PDF)
AORN Perioperative Bookstore
Perioperative Nurse Links (state nursing boards & professional associations

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this newsletter are strictly those of their respective authors and do not necessarily represent the views of NIFA. NIFA does not give any express or implied warranty as to the accuracy of statements made by our contributors and does not accept any liability for error or omission. It is the responsibility of all perioperative personnel to work within and adhere to their facility bylaws and individual scope of practice.