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About Us
Emergency Imaging

Emergency radiology is a radiology sub-specialty dedicated to swiftly and accurately diagnosing acute medical conditions and injuries in emergency room patients. By promptly providing crucial diagnostic information, our team of emergency radiologists enhance patient care, contribute to timely interventions, and work closely with Emergency Medicine and Acute Care (Trauma) Surgery to provide interpretations for complex trauma, surgical emergencies, and urgent medical conditions.

Our team of radiologists are doctors with training and expertise in diagnostic imaging performed in the emergency setting. In addition to having subspecialty training in abdominal radiology or neuroradiology, each of our physicians is highly skilled in the interpretation of radiography (x-ray), fluoroscopy, ultrasound, computed tomography (CT), and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) for the diagnosis of emergent conditions. Our emergency radiologists contribute to the delivery of high-quality patient care by providing thorough and timely interpretations of diagnostic images. Our reports help the emergency medicine team make accurate diagnoses and start appropriate treatments.

Understanding the Experience

After you are seen in the emergency department, the medical provider caring for you may determine that you need a medical imaging study for your evaluation. In some cases, they may make this decision after consulting with one of our radiologists. As soon as possible, you will be brought to our radiology department, where the examination will be performed and interpreted by one of our specialists. All imaging results are immediately available to patients in My UNC Chart™.

A member of the UNC staff will transport you to a room with equipment that will be used to obtain single or multiple images of your area or areas of concern. This equipment includes CT and MRI scanners, x-ray machines, and ultrasound probes. In this area, you will be greeted by another member of the UNC staff, typically an imaging technologist, who will give you instructions for your examination. This may involve changing into a gown, removing jewelry and other accessories, and/or positioning yourself in a way that will yield the best images. Often, this last step includes the request that you hold still during the examination. Many CT or MRI examinations require contrast.  If your study needs contrast, you will have blood drawn and an IV catheter placed.
Radiography (x-ray) and CT examinations are the most common studies ordered in the emergency room.  These are completed in minutes.

Ultrasound examinations are usually completed in less than 45 minutes.

Most MRI examinations are completed in less than an hour, though some complex studies may take longer.

Our priority is providing accurate, high-quality reports in a timely manner. In most cases, a report for the imaging study will be available less than one hour after it was performed. However, to ensure accuracy in even the most complex cases, some reports may take longer. Periods of unusually high patient volume in the emergency department can also cause delays, but we make every effort to limit this.