A galactography—or ductography—uses X-rays to produce images of the breast’s milk ducts.
A galactography—also referred to as a breast ductography—is an imaging test that uses X-rays to create pictures of milk ducts inside a woman’s breast.
Why Is a Galactography Performed?
A physician may order a galactography if a patient has clear or bloody discharge from one nipple—a possible symptom of conditions such as:
- Milk duct papillomas (wart-like growths)
- Fibrocystic breast changes
- Breast cancer
Galactographies are especially useful if a woman’s routine mammogram appears normal. On the other hand, a galactography is not recommended for women with abnormal discharge from both nipples or discharge that is milky, green or grey.
What Happens During a Galactography?
A galactography is an outpatient procedure that may take 20 minutes to one hour to complete. Here’s what it entails:
- The patient undresses from the waist up and is seated or lies down on an exam table.
- The affected breast is cleaned, and the nipple may be dilated.
- A very small catheter (a thin, hollow tube) is gently inserted into the nipple.
- A small amount of contrast dye is administered through the catheter to highlight the milk ducts on the X-ray.
- A mammogram—or X-ray imaging of the breast—is performed. Mammography involves compressing the breast with plastic plates to flatten tissue and allow for clear images.
What Can I Expect?
Before a galactography, you’ll be advised to leave jewelry at home and avoid wearing deodorant or lotion underneath your arms the morning of the procedure. It’s also important to avoid squeezing the affected nipple prior to the test.
A galactography uses a minimal amount of radiation to produce images and is considered safe. Possible complications of this procedure include an allergic reaction to the contrast dye or infection or injury to the milk duct, although these are uncommon.
Tampa General Hospital is home to experienced radiologists, oncologists and breast health experts who provide a wide array of advanced diagnostic services, including galactographies.