Q&A – Spring 2016

Have a question for our doctors? Drop us a line at editor@utsouthwestern.edu and we may address your query in a future issue.

How much radiation will I be exposed to during my upcoming ultrasound?

“Ultrasound (sonography) uses sound waves to create detailed images of the inside of the body, so whether you’ll be having a pelvic ultrasound or an abdominal ultrasound, you won’t be exposed to any radiation. These studies are safe, painless, and easy to complete. Ultrasound imaging is performed on patients by slowly moving a small piece of equipment called a transducer across the outside of the abdomen. For some female patients, another option is transvaginal ultrasound, which involves inserting a small probe in the vagina for improved visualization. Thanks to ongoing advances in all types of imaging, we offer both 3-D (still-frame) and 4-D (moving) ultrasound imaging.”

Sound perception: Extremely useful as a non-invasive diagnostic tool, ultrasound is used to examine not only the pelvis (the uterus and ovaries in women, the prostate and testicles in men) and abdomen (kidneys, liver, and gallbladder) but many other parts of the body as well, including the brain, eyes, thyroid, and breasts.

Cecelia Brewington, M.D.
Professor of Radiology

Botox injections
Botox injections
I’m interested in using Botox for aesthetic, not medical, reasons. What are the side effects?

“In general, most people tolerate Botox quite well. Some worry that because it’s a toxin it causes paralysis, but Botox is safe and has few side effects if used in the right way. The main potential complication is to have an upper eyelid droop, which would be temporary because the toxin lasts for only three months. But that’s rare if you know exactly where to inject the Botox. The other potential complication is having a bruise or maybe just a bit of swelling from the injection, but again that would be rare. The most important thing to ensure your safety is to work with an experienced specialist.”

Lasting effects: Botox injections generally last three months, but the longer you have treatment, the less frequently you need it because the muscles you are targeting eventually atrophy. So the length of time between Botox injections actually increases over time.

Sarah Saxon, M.D.
Assistant Professor of Otolaryngology

I feel like I’ve been experiencing dizziness more than usual lately. Should I be concerned?

“Experiencing dizziness—feeling vertigo, off-balance, lightheaded, or faint—is an extremely common symptom and becomes even more common as people get older. One-third of people over age 65 and half of adults over age 85 experience dizziness. There are a multitude of potential causes for this, ranging from the benign to the potentially fatal. These can include inner-ear problems, strokes, migraines, tumors, and cardiovascular disease. Due to the highly variable nature of dizziness, and because of its many, many different causes, it’s very important for physicians to obtain a thorough history and examination to make the diagnosis.”

Reel life: Although “dizziness” and “vertigo” are often used interchangeably, vertigo refers more specifically to a perception of spinning (of yourself or the environment); some may experience a feeling of tumbling.

Shin Beh, M.D.
Assistant Professor of Neurology & Neurotherapeutics