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Question:

What is a ductogram?

Answer:

Discharge from the nipple of the breast can occur commonly in women of any age and can be caused by a variety of different medical conditions, including cancer.

The discharge may be related to the menstrual cycle or the use of certain medicines. Doctors may want to evaluate the possibility of some underlying irregularity of the breast, especially if the discharge continues, occurs only on one breast or is bloody or blood tinged. Generally, a mammogram is done to examine the breast for any underlying abnormality. In addition, many breast surgeons also rely on the test known as a ductogram.

Under magnification, a radiologist will try to find the open end of the duct that ends on the nipple. The radiologist then threads a very fine tube (cannula) into the end of the duct. Dye is injected into the duct, and pictures are taken of the breast. This produces an outline of the anatomy of the duct, including the lining of the duct and any abnormalities that may be pressing or surrounding the duct.

A ductogram is very helpful if a biopsy of the breast is needed to help explain the cause of the nipple discharge. This procedure adds important information about the tissue that makes up the breast and the ducts. It also helps localize abnormalities that may not be clear on the mammogram.

Online Medical Reviewer: Louise Akin, RN, BSN
Online Medical Reviewer: Daphne Pierce-Smith, RN, MSN, FNP, CCRC
Last Review Date: 7/30/2007
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