Industry News

The New Wave of Imaging Specialists, the RPA-RAs, Hold Their Sixth Annual Conference

Chuck Williams, BS, RPA, RT(R)(CV)(CI), RCIS, CPFT, CCT1; Bhawna Oberoi, BSRS, RPA-RA (CBRPA) RT (R)(M)2
Chuck Williams, BS, RPA, RT(R)(CV)(CI), RCIS, CPFT, CCT1; Bhawna Oberoi, BSRS, RPA-RA (CBRPA) RT (R)(M)2
The National Society of Radiology Practitioners Assistants (NSRPA) held their Sixth Annual Conference at the Orleans Casino and Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada on January 31-February 1, 2005. Founded in 1999, the NSRPA conference is an annual meeting of a group of registered radiologic technologists who have completed 2 years of advanced didactic and clinical training at Weber State University, in Ogden, Utah, to perform invasive cardiac procedures in cardiac cath labs, general, computed imaging procedures in radiology, as well as interventional radiology procedures. This year’s meeting was attended by 170 certified RPAs, current Weber State University RPA students, four Loma Linda University Radiology Assistant (RA) students, and guest speakers. Guest speakers included two first-generation interventional radiologists, Drs. Manuel Viamonte, Jr. and Constantin Cope, and two second-generation interventional radiologists, Drs. James Le Page and Harvey Koolpe, along with Dr. Lori Barr, Dr. Elizabeth Bergey, Dr. Paul Potok, and two allied health professionals, Ms. Pamela Hyde, RN, and Mr. Neil Holtz, EMT-P. Mr. Holtz, co-author of two highly rated texts, Introduction to 12-Lead ECG; The Art of Interpretation and 12-Lead ECG: The Art of Interpretation1,2 spoke on ACLS and 12-lead ECG interpretation. Ms. Hyde presented an interesting and excellent talk on women and heart disease. She is a professional writer, a member of the Cath Lab Digest Editorial Board, and a supervisor of Cardiac Research at Emory University Hospital, in Atlanta, Georgia. Drs. Potok, Bergey, and Barr are pioneering benefactors to the radiology physician extenders within their medical facilities. Dr. Potok opened the conference with an excellent critique of emergency neuroradiology. Dr. Barr focused on pediatric upper gastrointestinal studies and voiding cystourethrograms, while imaging of appendicitis was the chosen topic of Dr. Bergey. Dr. LePage, who was one of my mentors when he was being trained in interventional radiology and invasive cardiology procedures in the 1970’s, delivered two lectures, which were on the diagnosis and treatment of portal hypertension. A University of Tennessee Emeritus Professor in Radiology, Dr. LePage is an expert on liver cirrhosis and portal hypertension. He worked with the late surgeon, Dr. Dean Warren, who developed the distal spleno-renal shunt procedure when both physicians were faculty members at the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Medical Center in Miami, Florida, in the late 1960’s. The late Dr. Warren joined the Emory University surgical faculty not long after the development of this surgical procedure. Biliary interventions - As They Were & As They Are, was the topic of Dr. Koolpe. Dr. Koolpe completed his radiology residency under the guidance of Dr. Constantin Stan Cope and his interventional radiology fellowship under the tutelage of Drs. Manuel Viamonte and James LePage. Dr. Koolpe invented the Cobra C-2 catheter, commonly used to perform visceral angiography, and was one of the first interventional radiologists in the world to place biliary stents in obstructed hepatobilary ducts. Distinguished interventionalist Dr. Cope presented The History of Angiog-raphy. This renowned, retired medical professor has invented over 140 devices used by cardiologists, radiologists, surgeons, urologists, and RPAs, who have been credentialed by their facilities to perform invasive and interventional procedures. Dr. Cope invented a very simple abdominal visceral catheter system in the late 1950’s that some invasive physicians continue to use today: the Cope nephrostomy catheter, and the widely used micropuncture set. You may see him pedaling his bicycle in Oregon, where he moved after retirement from the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center in Philadelphia, or he may seen working at the Dotter Interventional Institute, Oregon Health and Science University, in Portland, Oregon. Although there were many highlights throughout the meeting, Dr. Viamonte delivered a dynamic four-hour dissertation on Errors in Chest Radiography,3 which was based on his monologue of the same subject. His subtitled lectures included Basic Chest Radiography, Errors in Chest Image Interpretation, Contributions & Limitations of Imaging Modalities, and Interactive Chest Case Studies. Dr. Viamonte, who developed the material used in angiography catheters manufactured by the Cordis Corporation, helped Dr. Melvin Judkins when Dr. Judkins invented the pre-formed femoral coronary artery catheters (such as the Judkins Left and Judkins Right coronary catheters). Dr. Viamonte invented the first metered contrast media injectors, techniques on how to put Teflon® coating in stainless steel guide wires, guide wire hoop holders, and the contrast injector used to inject lymphatic vessels. He has presented over 1000 papers and written several books during his tenure as a Professor in Radiology with the University of Miami Medical School, in Miami, Florida. In conjunction with the lecture series, a workshop for insertion of PICC lines was sponsored by AngioDynamics (Queensbury, NY) and SonoSite (Bothell, WA). It was directed by Dr. Brian McInroy from Lewisberry, Pennsylvania. Additional conference sponsors included B. Braun Medical, Inc. (Bethlehem, PA), Cook Inc. (Bloomington, IN), Elsevier (New York, New York), and SonoSite. The Seventh Annual NSRPA Conference has been scheduled for January 30-31, 2006. Information about the meeting may be obtained by contacting Bhawna Oberoi, RPA, RA (CBRPA) at (Ms. Oberoi recently published her handbook, How to be a Successful Radiology Practitioner Assistant/ Radiologist Assistant, A practicing RPA’s perspective on meeting challenges in the newest profession in radiology.4) Some of the topics planned for the 2006 conference include dealing with addictive disorders in allied health workers, RPA, RA billing, abdominal and pelvic imaging, cardiac MRI, and neuroradiology. Two workshops are planned: (1) ACLS and the 12-lead ECG, which will be a four-hour recertification course for RPAs and RAs, who need to be recertified; (2) PICC line insertion certification and/or recertification. Information about the RPA Program at Weber State University, in Ogden, Utah can be obtained by contacting Dr. Jane Van Valkenburg at If information about the RPA Program at South College, Knoxville, Tennessee is needed, contact Ivan Kennedy RPA, RA (CBRPA) at
1. Garcia, Thomas B., and Neil E. Holtz. Introduction to 12-Lead ECG. Boston: Jones and Bartlett Publishers, 2001

2. Garcia, Thomas B., and Neil E. Holtz. 12-Lead ECG: The Art of Interpretation. Boston: Jones and Bartlett Publishers, 2001.

3. Viamonte, Jr., Manuel. Errors in Chest Radiography. Berlin: Springer-Verlag, 1991.

4. Oberoi, Bhawna. How to be a Successful Radiology Practitioner Assistant/Radiologist Assistant, A practicing RPA’s perspective on meeting challenges in the newest profession in radiology. Victoria, B.C.: Trafford Publishing, 2005.