Medical Services

Ductography (also called galactography or ductogalactography) is a special type of contrast enhanced mammography used for imaging the breast ducts. Ductography can aid in diagnosing the cause of an abnormal nipple discharge and is valuable in diagnosing intraductal papillomas and other conditions. Papillomas are wart-like, non-cancerous tumors with branchings or stalks that have grown inside the breast duct; they are the most common cause of nipple discharge.

Nipple discharge can be caused by non-cancerous tumors (such as papillomas) or cancer (such as ductal carcinoma in situ, DCIS). However, the majority of nipple discharges are due to benign (non-cancerous) causes. In particular, discharges that are yellow, green, blue, or black in color are usually categorized as less suspicious. For example, blue or black discharges are often associated with benign cysts. Discharges that are bloody, colorless, or clear in color are categorized as more suspicious, but further investigation usually results in a benign diagnosis. Bilateral nipple discharge (discharge occurring from both breasts) is usually benign and does not typically require investigation with ductography or other procedures. However, all persistent discharges should be reported to a physician for evaluation.

Most women are able to undergo ductography.

Ductogram - Patient Information

A ductogram is a mammographic procedure that is performed to help identify the breast duct that may be the source of nipple discharge.

You will be asked to undress above the waist and you will be given a gown to wear. You will be asked to lie on your back with your arm positioned over your head. The radiologist identifies the duct with the discharge, and aided by a magnifying glass, slowly places a small probe into the duct opening. Remember that the duct is a natural opening in the nipple and may be dilated due to the drainage therefore, the procedure should not be too uncomfortable.

Once the probe is in place, contrast material (dye) is slowly injected into the duct and a series of mammogram films will be taken. A registered technologist dedicated exclusively to breast imaging will assist the radiologist in your procedure.
After the probe is removed, the duct usually freely discharges the contrast material. You will be able to leave once the exam is finished.

Your procedure will be interpreted by a radiologist who specializes in the interpretation of breast imaging studies. The radiologist will review your films and generate a report. The report will be sent to your referring physician.

The Procedure

Because there are multiple small orifices at the nipple, successful procedure requires the ability to reproduce the discharge at the time of ductography so the proper duct can be cannulated. The radiologist will attempt to elicit the discharge by squeezing the breast. Sometimes, the patient will be asked to assist with this.

In a small percentage of cases, the discharge may not be reproduced. In this circumstance, the procedure must be rescheduled for a second attempt on another day.

To Learn More

For more information on the Breast Care Center, please call 574-523-7842. To schedule an appointment, please call 574-523-3444.