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Expert Emergency Surgery


Emergency surgery is a nonelective surgery to treat an urgently serious or life-threatening condition. It is necessary immediately to preserve a body part or save your life.

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

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

Why We Perform Emergency Surgery

Emergency surgery is sometimes needed for these conditions:

  • Brain injuries and spinal cord injuries, including skull fracture, brain hemorrhage (bleeding), spinal cord compression, and back and neck fracture
  • Gastrointestinal and abdominal events, including bowel obstructions, appendicitis, and gallbladder infections
  • Heart emergencies, including heart attack, aortic dissection, and aneurysms
  •  High-energy trauma, including work- and sports-related injuries, falls, car accident, and crush injuries
  • Lung conditions, including obstructions pulmonary embolism (a blood clot in an artery going to your lung) 
  • Neurologic events, including cerebral aneurysms and stroke
  • Penetrating trauma, such as stab and gunshot wounds
  • Severe burns, including those that cover up to 90 percent of your body 

The potentially life-saving benefit of emergency surgery usually outweighs the risks.

What to Expect from Emergency Surgery at Dignity Health

Emergency surgery takes place in one of our convenient Dignity Health hospitals in the Bay Area or medical centers. A variety of surgeons are on-call to perform emergency surgery at any time of the day or night, including:

  • Cardiothoracic surgeons
  • Emergency surgeons
  • General surgeons
  • Neurosurgeons
  • Orthopedic surgeons 

Recovery After Emergency Surgery

Your recovery period after emergency surgery depends on what type of surgery you had. Recovery times vary and may or may not require rehabilitation. For example, recovery after emergency surgery for a spinal cord injury can take weeks and include physical therapy, yet recovery after emergency gallbladder removal may only involve rest. Trust our doctors and staff to be there every step of the way. 

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