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Emergency Radiology: An Overview

Emergency Radiology: An Overview

Emergency Radiology Services, also known as Emergency Imaging Services, refer to the use of medical imaging in the emergency room for the purpose of diagnosing injuries or illnesses. These procedures include X-rays, CT scans, MRIs, and ultrasounds.

Learn more about the different kinds of imaging services available at Physicians Premier. Read on.

Kinds of Imaging Services

A variety of imaging tests exist. While some rely on radiation, others use magnets, radio waves, or sound waves.


X-rays involve capturing images using high-energy electromagnetic radiation beams. These beams get absorbed in varying degrees within the body depending on their density. For example, bones will appear white on an X-ray, enabling them to be distinguished from other body parts that appear black or grey. This helps in identifying anomalies or irregularities in the body.

X-rays are predominantly used for diagnosing bone-related problems like fractures, arthritis, osteoporosis, and bone cancer. However, they can also help in detecting other illnesses such as lung infections, congestive heart failure, blood blockages, swallowed objects, and digestive tract disorders. Although it may seem intimidating that X-rays involve radiation, these exams use a minimal dose of radiation, equivalent to what you would receive from a cross-country airplane flight.

CT Scan

CT (computerized tomography) scans use a sequence of X-ray images captured from various angles of the body along with computer processing to produce cross-sectional visuals, referred to as “slices,” of the bones, blood vessels, and soft tissues present inside the body. Essentially, CT scans reveal more intricate details compared to regular X-rays.

The level of intricacy in a CT scan is important as it shows not just the bones and denser masses but also the soft tissues and organs. CT scans can help in identifying illnesses such as cancer or heart disease, as well as any injuries or disorders in organs. CT scans can even identify internal bleeding and blood clots. Moreover, the ability to perform a CT scan within a minute is particularly important in a medical emergency.


MRIs function in a distinct manner. Instead of relying on radiation beams, MRIs use radio waves and magnets to disrupt atoms present in the water molecules within the body’s tissues. Upon deactivation of the radio waves, energy is discharged from the atoms, which the MRI machine detects and illustrates in 3D images. MRIs are particularly beneficial in evaluating soft tissue, such as muscles, tendons, and blood vessels, as opposed to bones.


Ultrasound examinations use high-frequency sound waves (instead of radiation beams) to create a visual representation of organs, tissues, and other structures within the body. The resulting image, known as a sonogram, is generated in real-time.

Benefits of Imaging in a Freestanding Emergency Room

During an emergency, waiting in a crowded hospital waiting room is not an option, as immediate care is necessary. Any of the scans mentioned above can assist the physician in identifying your condition.

Physicians Premier, your Corpus Christi ER, is a freestanding emergency room that offers on-site diagnostic imaging services, including ultrasound, X-ray, and CT scans with minimal wait times. Conveniently located, all Physicians Premier locations are open 24/7/365, providing extraordinary care.


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“What Does a Radiologic Technologist Do? An Inside Look at the Job,” Rasmussen University,
“Different Imaging Tests, Explained,” University of Virginia,
“Types of Medical Imaging,” Advent Health University,