A passion for vascular theatre radiography
Meet Nelie Bothma, one of SCP Radiology’s most experienced theatre radiographers with a particular passion for vascular theatre radiography. As part of a series on radiography careers, we asked Nelie five questions about her role at SCP and the fulfilment she gets from working in the operating theatre.
How did you end up working in vascular theatre?
I’ve been a radiographer for 25 years and with SCP for 17 of those. Although general theatre radiography forms part of the diagnostic radiography course, I ended up in vascular theatre because I had a keen interest in theatre work and started working at Cape Gate, which has a well-established vascular unit.
What does vascular theatre radiography entail?
I do in-theatre imaging for the vascular surgeon at the hospital about three days a week, for Dr Arthur Winter (radiologist at SCP) when he does neuro-intervention, and for our general interventional radiologists.
What makes vascular theatre radiography different?
Apart from the more advanced hybrid C-arm that’s used, I think vascular theatre is mentally and physically quite challenging. First, cases can take several hours and you remain on alert the whole time.
Surgery on arteries and veins is also extremely delicate and you need to know the surgeon’s procedure in detail; think on your feet to know what imaging he will need almost before he can ask. You’re actively involved from the beginning of the operation to the end. With time, you get to know the surgeon and theatre team so well that you become part of the team and acquire much more agency than in general.
And of course, when there’s an emergency like a thoracic aorta that needs to be repaired after a traumatic incident, it is extremely rewarding to be part of that well-oiled team where everyone just knows their role and what to do to get the job done.
The neuro-intervention part of your job is fairly new. Tell us about that.
When Dr Arthur Winter joined SCP last year, it opened a world within a world for me. He clearly has a great passion for what he does and he’s willing to explain with great care and patience. We’re learning a lot in the process and to see Dr Winter operate is awe-inspiring.
Are there less enjoyable aspects of your job?
Sometimes doing theatre day in and day out becomes somewhat tedious. Then I just walk down to the department and do a few X-rays. But the way forward has me even more excited than before. I’m happy.
This article is part of a series of short staff profiles by SCP Radiology to highlight radiography as a career. Read more about Radiography Careers in our News section.