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World J Surg. 2015 Jan;39(1):184-6. doi: 10.1007/s00268-014-2701-1.

Magnetic resonance imaging in patients with unilateral bloody nipple discharge; useful when conventional diagnostics are negative?

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Department of Surgery, Albert Schweitzer Hospital, Albert Schweitzerplaats 25, 3318 AT, Dordrecht, The Netherlands,



Unilateral bloody nipple discharge (UBND) is mostly caused by benign conditions such as papilloma or ductal ectasia. However, in 7-33 % of all nipple discharge, it is caused by breast cancer. Conventional diagnostic imaging like mammography (MMG) and ultrasonography (US) is performed to exclude malignancy. Preliminary investigations of breast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) assume that it has additional value. With an increasing availability of MRI, it is of clinical importance to evaluate this. We evaluated the additional diagnostic value of MRI in patients with UBND in the absence of a palpable mass, with normal conventional imaging.


All women with UBND in the period November 2007-July 2012 were included. In addition to the standard work-up (patient's history, physical examination, MMG, and US), MRI was performed. Data from these examinations and treatment were collected retrospectively.


A total of 111 women (mean age 52 years; range 23-80) were included. In nine (8 %) patients, malignancy was suspected on MRI while conventional imaging was normal. In eight (89 %) of these patients, histology was obtained, two by core biopsy and six by terminal duct excision. Benign conditions were found in six patients (86 %) and a (pre-) malignant lesion in two patients. In both cases, it concerned a ductal carcinoma in situ, which was treated with breast-conserving therapy. Moreover, in two cases of (pre)malignancy, the MRI was interpreted as negative.


In patients with UBND who show no signs of a malignancy on conventional diagnostic examinations, the added value of a breast MRI is limited, since a malignancy can be demonstrated in <2 %.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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