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Emergency Radiology


Emergency radiology refers to imaging exams used to diagnose a traumatic injury or acute illness. The detailed images it provides can be lifesaving. Emergency radiology services help our doctors at Dignity Health’s Bay Area hospitals quickly diagnose patients so you can start receiving treatment.

These imaging exams may include:

  • CT (computed tomography), which creates 3-D images using specialized X-rays taken from multiple angles 
  • MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), which creates a 3-D image using a large magnet or other technology
  • Ultrasound, which creates a moving picture of a structure or organ, such as a beating heart, using sound waves
  • X-rays, which generate a still image of an organ or structure using a very small amount of ionizing radiation

At Dignity Health, our emergency care team is here for you 24 hours a day, seven days a week at the following locations:

Our expert technicians provide efficient, leading-edge emergency radiology services in the Bay Area. Use our Online Waiting Room to select your estimated arrival time to one of our ERs.

If you are experiencing a life-threatening symptom or injury, or signs of heart attack or stroke, immediately call 9-1-1.

Why We Use Radiology in the ER

  • Abdominal emergencies — appendicitiskidney stones, and bowel obstructions 
  • Aneurysms — aortic aneurysms in the abdomen or chest and brain aneurysms
  • Blood clots — clots that cause pulmonary embolisms (blood clot in artery going to lung) and stroke (blood clot in artery going to brain)
  • Chest emergencies — chest pain, collapsed lung, pulmonary embolism, and breathing problems
  • Infections — abscesses and infected gallbladder
  • Internal bleeding — hemorrhagic stroke and bleeding due to trauma
  • Internal injuries — organ injury such as a ruptured spleen 
  • Traumatic injuries — fractures, spine injuries, and head and neck injuries

X-rays and ultrasound are quick imaging options. Portable ultrasound and X-ray machines allow easy access to imaging, sometimes even bedside, benefiting patients in critical care. Because ultrasound does not use radiation, it is a preferred method to diagnose illnesses in children and other people who may need to avoid radiation exposure. CT scans are used to diagnose injuries and problems with bony structures, including the spine. MRI is often used to analyze soft tissues and internal organs, including the brain and heart. 

Emergency Radiology: What to Expect at Dignity Health

Emergency radiology takes place in our Dignity Health Bay Area hospitals and medical centers. A radiologic technologist will likely perform the procedure and an emergency radiologist will interpret the results. Our goal is to provide the results as quickly as possible to help diagnose the condition and guide emergency treatment.

Keep in mind you may have a combination of imaging studies so we can better understand and diagnose your condition. Getting your effective, efficient care that is personalized to your needs is our priority.

Dignity Health provides emergency radiology in San Francisco, Santa Cruz, and Redwood City.