The emergency department, or sometimes just emergency, is a busy spot (especially in larger populated areas) with many patients waiting anxiously to be seen and diagnosed. There are many times when patients injuries/complaints are minor such as nausea and vomiting however these conditions can worsen when in the emergency care. There are also severe traumatic injuries that enter the emergency department such as patients with myocardial infarction (i.e. heart attack). Other severe traumatic injuries can include those who have been involved in a car accident and have multiple fractures, gun and stab wound victims.
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Fig-1: Demonstrates a fracture ankle. Injuries such as fractures are common in the ER.

The radiographer is routinely called upon to x-ray these patients. Emergency imaging is fun and exciting but at the same time you must remember to respect the patients privacy and confidenitiality.  Radiographers working in the ER must work quickly but efficiently to obtain diagnostic quality images.  

When patients in a serious car accident arrive to the emergency department, they will usually arrive on a backboard, in a neck collar basically preventing any movement of the spine that could potentially cause harm.  It the difficult task of the radiographer to obtain quality images when the patient is unable to move and obey simple commands when immoblized. Experience is an excellent characteristic to have when performing radiographs on a patient who present to the department this way. Even an experienced radiographer can have difficulty with certain trauma situations. Trauma imaging is not for the faint of heart, as there are blood and body fluids constantly present during examinations and technologists must always watch the patients for signs of reduced levels of consciousness and other signs that could potentially be fatal. 

Depending on the hospital there may be twenty four coverage (x-ray) for the ER. This means that a radiographer is always within the hospital and prepared to exam ER patients. Other areas such as smaller more rural hospital have a radiographer on-call to come in to the department to exam a critically ill patient. 

All in all emergency imaging is one of, if not they most challenging aspect of the profession offering great experience to a new radiographer. 


Bontrager, K.L., & Lampignano, J.P. (2005). Radiographic Positioning and Related Anatomy. Elsevier Mosby, 6th Ed. 

Torres, L.S., Watson-Norcutt, T.A., & Dutton, A.G. (2003). Basic Medical Techniques and Patient Care in Imaging Technology. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 6th Ed.