expert type icon EXPERT

Jennifer L. Benjamin

Radiologist

Dr. Jennifer Benjamin is a radiologist practicing in Asheville, North Carolina. Dr. Benjamin specializes in diagnosing and treating injuries and diseases using medical imaging techniques such as X-Rays, magnetic resonance imaging and computed tomography exams. These techniques offer accurate visibility to the inside of the patients body and help to detect otherwise hidden illnesses so that they can be treated quickly and efficiently.
Jennifer L. Benjamin
  • Asheville, North Carolina
  • Western University of Health Sciences College
  • Accepting new patients

Are there any side effects of iodine contrast?

It’s possible but unlikely that contract would cause headaches. IV Contrast should clear from your system in 48 hour the very latest. (Unless you are on dialysis.)

What are safe radiation levels for children?

Depends on where you are having it done. I would avoid having an X-ray done in a doctor’s office or Chiropracter’s office. Hospitals or imaging centers are better choices. They READ MORE
Depends on where you are having it done. I would avoid having an X-ray done in a doctor’s office or Chiropracter’s office. Hospitals or imaging centers are better choices. They are more regulated than a small office and must adhere to strict safety guidelines. Offices are supposed to but the oversight may be lax.

No dose of radiation is considered “safe” since we don’t ever know which interaction will damage a cell irreparably. However, we live on planet earth and are bombarded by radiation from the sun daily. Do you fly in airplanes? You can get the equivalent dose to a chest X-ray every time you fly a few hours. Will you get cancer from it? Probably not. But no one can say for sure.

The dose of radiation to the ankle will be minimal. Not something to worry about if there is appropriate benefit of gaining medical information. However, if you are looking for soft tissue injury, an X-ray radiograph cannot tell you much in that regard. It is excellent for evaluating bones and seeing fractures. For soft tissue pathology MRI is far better. I hope that helps.

What tests can indicate the reason for my chest congestion?

Chest CT may be helpful. Echocardiogram may also be helpful.

What is the treatment that a radiologist can give for breast cancer?

A radiologist specializing in mammography interprets mammograms, ultrasounds and MR of the Breast. They also do biopsies or sampling of tissue suspicious for malignancy. (There READ MORE
A radiologist specializing in mammography interprets mammograms, ultrasounds and MR of the Breast. They also do biopsies or sampling of tissue suspicious for malignancy. (There are different kinds of sub specialties in radiology- for example, I sub specialize in Neuroradiology and trauma radiology/ emergency imaging.) A radiologist with subspecialty training in breast imaging is also called a mammographer. There are also general radiologists who usually practice in smaller hospitals where they have to do a little bit of everything. Sub specialists, such as mammographers, only practice their subspecialty and nothing else. They are experts and are usually found in large tertiary care hospitals, where there is enough volume for them to fill their schedule, typically at universities or the Cleveland Clinic for example.

An oncologist decides what treatment is appropriate for patients with breast cancer. There are different types of treatment. An oncologist will help determine what treatment is best based on the type of cancer and what kinds of treatments are available in your community. You may want to explore options at other institutions if you are not happy with the options provided. You should be aware that there are oncologists that specialize in radiation treatment. But you will usually not see that doctor first. A radiation oncologist is not a “radiologist” though, even though they plan the dose of radiation therapy. The terminology can be confusing.

Your wife may have been referred to a radiation oncologist by the primary oncologist. He will typically work with a radiation oncologist and a breast surgeon. The primary oncologist will decide the course of treatment and what options are best (Chemo and/or radiation and/or surgery and or clinical trials.) You should ask the oncologist about what treatment options are best for your wife. I hope that helps. Good luck to you both.
Dr. Jennifer Benjamin

What tests can find the cause of my headaches?

You should see a headache specialist. A CT scan and/ or MRI can determine if you have a mass or intracranial hemorrhage (bleeding) which can cause headaches. If those find no READ MORE
You should see a headache specialist. A CT scan and/ or MRI can determine if you have a mass or intracranial hemorrhage (bleeding) which can cause headaches. If those find no cause, then You may never find the cause. You should try Botox if you haven’t already.

Why is there such a radical difference between my chest X-ray and CT scan?

A picture is worth a thousand words. You should Google chest CT and chest X-ray. You can see the difference. A chest X-ray projects radiation through your body to be captured by READ MORE
A picture is worth a thousand words. You should Google chest CT and chest X-ray. You can see the difference. A chest X-ray projects radiation through your body to be captured by a film on the opposite side of your body. Whatever doesn’t make it, essentially leaves a shadow of your bones and organs. Some pathology can easily be demonstrated, some cannot.

A CT scan circles around your body and similarly captures the radiation that passes through, but it does so with greater capacity and detail. Allowing for more detailed imagery of the density of the different substances in your body. The “computed” part of “computed tomography” or “CT” computes or assembles the data collected into an image with greater detail than a single dimension chest X-ray. Also, the images acquired can be “windowed” to optimize the viewing of lung tissue, soft organs or bone to be more sensitive to pathology. The level of detail visible with a CT scan is much greater than that of a chest X-ray. Sometimes there is a hint of pathology on a chest X-ray that is better demonstrated on a more detailed CT scan. The reports for a CT will therefore be more detailed than for an X-ray since more of your body is demonstrated.

I hope that helps.

What is the accuracy of a radiologist report?

A radiologist is a human being, and as such is imperfect, and it is possible for a person to make a mistake. However, a radiologist is a person who cares so much about helping READ MORE
A radiologist is a human being, and as such is imperfect, and it is possible for a person to make a mistake. However, a radiologist is a person who cares so much about helping other human beings that they invest a great deal of time in learning their profession. Specifically, 4 years of college, 4 years of medical school, 1 year of internship, 4 years of radiology residency and then, if they subspecialize, another one or depending on the sub specialty (like Neuroradiology) two years of fellowship training. Radiologists are hyper focused on noticing every detail of your imaging study so as not to miss anything. It is our greatest fear, to miss a finding. However, depending on the environment where you get your care, a radiologist may be compromised by being asked to read your study in the middle of the night when they are exhausted. Or they may be asked to read such a high volume of cases that they must move very quickly - sometimes too quickly through studies.

If you have ANY question about your study, I’d encourage you to get a copy and take it to be read by another radiologist at another facility for a second opinion. You are entitled to do this.

Dr. Jennifer Benjamin

What do I need to know before getting a CT scan?

There is nothing you need to do unless you are having a CT colonoscopy. However, you would have already been given instructions for cleanout and prep for that.

Can an X-ray indicate the kidney functioning level?

An X-ray will give you no indication of kidney function. The creatinine and glomerular filtration rate (gfr) are best indicators of renal function. At 5.5 your mother is in acute, READ MORE
An X-ray will give you no indication of kidney function. The creatinine and glomerular filtration rate (gfr) are best indicators of renal function. At 5.5 your mother is in acute, if not chronic, kidney failure. Dialysis should be discussed sooner rather than later.

Can an X-ray detect cancer?

Yes, an X-ray can detect some cancers. CT is better for screening high risk patients. PET-CT is best for known nodules larger than 8mm, as PET imaging detects metabolic activity, READ MORE
Yes, an X-ray can detect some cancers. CT is better for screening high risk patients. PET-CT is best for known nodules larger than 8mm, as PET imaging detects metabolic activity, which is usually increased in cancer. If that is positive, then a biopsy may be appropriate to determine the specific type of cancer you are dealing with so the best treatment can be selected.

How can I ensure no other cancer cells are present in my body?

You can’t. Cancer cells are in everyone’s body. It’s your body’s ability to keep the overgrowth in check that keeps you well. Once you have one cancer you are at risk to form other READ MORE
You can’t. Cancer cells are in everyone’s body. It’s your body’s ability to keep the overgrowth in check that keeps you well. Once you have one cancer you are at risk to form other types. The best thing you can do is alter your diet, reduce sugar, reduce meat, increase plant based foods, meditate and stay vigilant about changes. Go for your regular check ups. Think positively. Enjoy your life. Cancer is not a death sentence, just a disease to be managed. Educate yourself about proton therapy if you haven’t already, just in case....

Open MRI

No. Open MRI does not produce the same quality images. The images may be adequate to diagnose some pathology but generally the images are not as good as a standard MR. Magnetic READ MORE
No. Open MRI does not produce the same quality images. The images may be adequate to diagnose some pathology but generally the images are not as good as a standard MR. Magnetic Field inhomogeneities are greater with open MRI, degrading image quality. You’d have to study and understand the physics of magnetic resonance to understand why you’d want to reduce field inhomogeneities. Suffice it to say the fewer the better. A standard bore (donut) magnet reduces field inhomogeneities

There are different levels of image quality. You may not need the best to identify disc bulges which are easy to see. However, if you are looking for subtle nerve abnormalities you are going to want to generate the finest quality images with the ability to see great detail. Open MRs generate the lowest quality images. A 1.5 T (“T” stands for “Tesla” which is a unit of measurement that identifies the strength of the magnet) is better . A 3T magnet generates better quality images than a 1.5 T and a 7T magnet - usually only available in research facilities -gives even better image quality. 3T is the best commonly available. Open MR is designed for the claustrophobic- not best image quality though.

Can X-ray radiations be harmful for pregnant women?

There is no amount of radiation that is “safe.” However, sometimes the benefits of gaining information about your condition outweigh the risks of a small dose of radiation - I READ MORE
There is no amount of radiation that is “safe.” However, sometimes the benefits of gaining information about your condition outweigh the risks of a small dose of radiation - I think it would be important to know how displaced your broken bones may be. The most risky time for radiation during pregnancy is in the first 12 weeks when the fetus is still forming organs. At 6 months of pregnancy, all organs are formed and the fetus is just adding mass. Since I don’t know how bad your fracture is, it’s hard to say whether it is necessary. It is advisable to have a discussion with the doctor who is ordering it. If you don’t like the answers, talk with another physician until you feel comfortable.

What's the earliest I can get a mammogram?

You should have genetic testing done to determine if you carry the BRCA genes that put you at increased risk for breast cancer. You should also request MRI breast screening based READ MORE
You should have genetic testing done to determine if you carry the BRCA genes that put you at increased risk for breast cancer. You should also request MRI breast screening based on your family history. This will reduce your risk of exposure to radiation from mammograms. Radiation from mammograms is minimal, but if you are looking to start screening at your young age you should try to avoid radiation exposure as much as possible since it is cumulative over your lifetime and cannot be undone. That being said, sometimes the risk of a mammogram is worth it to reap the benefit of early detection of breast cancer. It’s a balancing act. I’d push for MRI screening, preferably somewhere that has a large center or university medical center dedicated to breast imaging.

Is skin cancer hereditary?

There are different types of skin cancer. Family history can play some role in your risk of getting skin cancer but the greater factor that creates risk is sun exposure for all READ MORE
There are different types of skin cancer. Family history can play some role in your risk of getting skin cancer but the greater factor that creates risk is sun exposure for all types of skin cancer. The other factor that increases risk for skin cancer is having other types of cancers. If you have one type of cancer, your body has had some trigger that responds with over growth of abnormal cells. No one can calculate exactly what your individual risk of getting cancer may be based on your family history, personal history of other cancer or sun exposure.

What we can do is identify the factors, exposures and behaviors that generally increase risk for anyone. Whatever your family history is, you can’t change it or do anything about it, so worrying about it is useless. You can’t change past exposures to toxins, radiation, or the sun.

What you should focus on is changing the things that are within your control. For example, you can choose to reduce the amount of sun exposure by covering up and using sun blocks. You can choose to get skin cancer exams if you are concerned about a lesion. You can choose to eat things that improve your health.

Be wise, be safe, worry less, and make good choices.

If I have a shellfish allergy can I have iodine contrast?

Yes. Your body needs iodine and uses it every day. There is iodine in both she'll fish and CT contrast but that is not the antigenic agent. It is something else. While it used READ MORE
Yes. Your body needs iodine and uses it every day. There is iodine in both she'll fish and CT contrast but that is not the antigenic agent. It is something else. While it used to be thought the allergy to shellfish precluded the use of iodinated contrast, that is no longer the case. If you are concerned you can premedicate with an antihistamine like Benedryl and ask your primary care physician for a prescription of steroids to take thirteen hours and one hour before iodinated/CT contrast administration. ALWAYS drink 4-8 glasses of water before and after the contrast in order to protect and flush your kidneys.

MRI vs CT contrast

MR contrast is Gadolinium. CT contrast is iodine based. Both create organ enhancement that usually make it easier to detect pathology. Each type of contrast is specific for its READ MORE
MR contrast is Gadolinium. CT contrast is iodine based. Both create organ enhancement that usually make it easier to detect pathology. Each type of contrast is specific for its modality. They are not interchangeable. There are instances when it is unnecessary to use contrast (like for CT for kidney stones) or inadvisable due to kidney failure or history of allergic reaction.

Does CT definitley confirm parotid mass?

There are intraparotid lymph nodes that can get enlarged if the parotid gland is infected. A parotid mass could be a malignancy. A mass can be a lymph node or a malignancy. Lymph READ MORE
There are intraparotid lymph nodes that can get enlarged if the parotid gland is infected. A parotid mass could be a malignancy. A mass can be a lymph node or a malignancy. Lymph nodes are not worrisome unless they are very large due to lymphoma, another form of malignancy. Another type of malignant mass like pleoprphic adenoma is more worrisome. Wait until you get the biopsy results back. Hopefully, that will be definitive and then you can rest easy if it is just a regular or inflamed lymph node. If it's anything else, then you can begin to do more research on the type of malignancy it is. Just a word of caution, FNA can sometimes not collect enough cells and you may need to have a biopsy done with a larger needle. Hopefully, that won't be the case.