A ductogram is a test that makes pictures of the breast ducts. It is done with a mammogram and special contrast material.
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Reasons for Procedure
A ductogram is done to look for the cause of abnormal discharge from the nipples.
X-rays do not cause short-term health complications. But radiation doses may build up in the body over time. The more x-rays you have the more radiation there will be. This can raise the risk of some cancers. The risk is higher in children and women who could get or are pregnant.
Lead safety shields are used during x-rays. They help lower the amount of radiation to the body.
Problems are rare, but all procedures have some risk. The doctor will go over some problems that could happen, such as:
- Reaction to the contrast material
- Injury to the duct
What to Expect
Prior to Procedure
The care team may meet with you to talk about:
- Any allergies you may have
- Current medicines, herbs, and supplements that you take and whether you need to stop taking them before the procedure
- Avoiding squeezing any discharge from the nipple in the days before the test
- Not using deodorant, powders, lotions, or perfumes on the breasts or under the arms
Description of the Procedure
There are different ways to do this procedure. You will be asked to lie on your back. The nipple will be cleaned. The breast will be squeezed to release discharge. This will help the doctor find out which duct the discharge is coming from. A small, flexible tube will be inserted into the milk duct. Contrast material will be injected through this tube. X-rays will be taken of the breast after the contrast material is injected. The tube will be removed and a small bandage or pad will be placed over the nipple.
How Long Will It Take?
30 to 60 minutes
Will It Hurt?
Discomfort and breast discharge are common in first 2 to 3 days. Medicine and home care can help.
You can return to normal activities. The doctor will talk to you about your test results.
Call Your Doctor
Call the doctor if you are not getting better or you have:
- Signs of an infection, such as fever or chills
- Redness or swelling of the breast
- Bloody discharge from the nipple
- Pain that does not go away
If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.
Breast cancer. American Cancer Society website. Available at: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/breast-cancer.html. Accessed October 15, 2020.
Breast ductography. Radiopaedia website. Available at: http://radiopaedia.org/articles/breast-ductography-1. Accessed October 15, 2020.
Galoctography (ductography). Radiological Society of North America Radiology Info website. Available at: http://www.radiologyinfo.org/en/info.cfm?pg=galactogram. Accessed October 15, 2020.
Kasales CJ, Han B, et al. Nonpuerperal mastitis and subareolar abscess of the breast. AJR Am J Roentgenol. 2014 Feb;202(2):W133-139.
Nonlactational mastitis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/nonlactational-mastitis. Accessed October 15, 2020.
Last reviewed September 2020 by
EBSCO Medical Review Board
Elliot M. Levine, MD, FACOG
Last Updated: 4/27/2021