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If you experience suspicious nipple discharge in your bra, on your clothes, or after a shower or bath, your doctor may recommend that you undergo a ductography (also known as galactography).

This minimally invasive procedure can detect obstructions in the breast ducts (called filling defects), which include non-cancerous, pre-cancerous, or cancerous masses in the ducts. In 90 percent of cases, filling defects in the milk ducts are not cancerous.

What to expect during a ductography

Your doctor or nurse will provide detailed instructions to follow prior to your ductography. In general, you can expect to:

  • Wear comfortable, loose clothing to the exam (no jewelry)
  • Not apply deodorant or lotion under your arms or on your breasts the day of the exam
  • Change into a gown for the procedure

During this procedure, a radiologist will inject contrast dye into the breast duct that is producing the discharge. The technologist will then perform a mammogram to create images of the inside of your milk ducts.

Normal versus abnormal discharge

Rest assured, milky discharge is often normal for several years after childbirth or after you stop breastfeeding. However, if you have not recently given birth or breastfed, or if your discharge is brown, bloody, or clear, the discharge may be considered abnormal. If you are concerned about any discharge, talk to your doctor.

Common causes of abnormal nipple discharge

The most common causes of abnormal nipple discharge are:

  • Benign papilloma (non-cancerous wart-like growth)
  • Benign fibrocystic changes (non-cancerous breast lumps)
  • Benign duct ectasia (duct becomes blocked or clogged)
  • Breast cancer

Once you are diagnosed, our team will create a treatment plan tailored to your individual needs.

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