Emergency Radiology for Medical Students

Emergency medicine focuses on the utilization of medical imaging for the diagnosis and treatment of acutely ill or injured patients.  It encompasses all modalities and subspecialties within radiology, but with a focus on the acute setting.  The broad scope of this field includes the use of radiographs (e.g. for diagnosis of fractures and pneumonias), CT imaging (e.g. for settings such as trauma or acute abdominopelvic diagnoses like infection), MRI (e.g. for stroke and other acute neurologic, musculoskeletal or abdominal processes), ultrasound (e.g. for pregnancy, abdominal diseases, and soft tissue abnormalities), and nuclear medicine (e.g. in assessing ventriculoperitoneal shunts, amongst many other things).

Goals and objectives

  • Discuss the role of abdominal ultrasound in the assessment of an acute trauma patient
  • What does acute blood look like on the FAST Exam?
  • Review criteria for performing CT in trauma patient
  • When does one order a C-spine Radiograph versus a CT scan for Cervical spine trauma?
  • What are the Risks of Scanning a low pretest probability patient versus the Risks of Not Scanning?


  • Summarize the benefits and limitations of ultrasound as an imaging modality
  • What body habitus is best suited for abdominal ultrasound? How does this differ with CT of the abdomen?
  • Explain why ultrasound is a good modality for assessing vascular structures
  • Describe the role of ultrasound in the workup of the following symptoms: Right upper quadrant pain renal colic, suspected appendicitis, evaluation of a breast mass, first trimester vaginal bleeding, post menopausal vaginal bleeding, female pelvic pain, testicular torsion