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Breast J. 2009 Sep-Oct;15 Suppl 1:S90-4. doi: 10.1111/j.1524-4741.2009.00799.x.

Breast ductoscopy and the evolution of the intra-ductal approach to breast cancer.

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Department of Surgery, The University of Oklahoma, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73103, USA.


Interest in breast endoscopy came from Oriental investigators in the early 1990s where bloody nipple discharge is a more common presentation of breast cancer. The early techniques using a single microfiber scope without ductal distension was successful in navigating only the first 1-3 cm of the ducts and fraught with technical problems such as scope breakage and poor image quality. In spite of these barriers there has been increasing use of this technology in Japan and more widespread acceptance as the technology of scope design improved. Dooley and others tested a new method of obtaining a rich cytologic specimen from the ducts of high-risk women known as ductal lavage recently. The success of this procedure was that it detected severe cytologic and malignant atypia in clinically and radiographically normal breasts. Reproducibly, the same breast duct could be cannulated and severely atypical cytology obtained. The problem arose in identifying the lesion within the breast, which was the source for the atypia. New American multi-fiber microendoscopes were applied to solve this problem in an initial series of patients with abnormal cytology to identify the lesions. Success of that series lead to wider application of the imaging technology and eventual adoption of this imaging modality help to guide during all non-mastectomy breast surgery where fluid could be elicited from the nipple to identify the duct connecting to the lesion for which surgery was being performed. Initial reports have demonstrated the types of operative findings in certain sub-populations early in the use of this technology.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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