A ductogram is a special test that is used to image breast ducts. This test is performed to evaluate abnormal nipple discharge. Nipple discharge can be caused by a variety of conditions. The majority of conditions are benign, such as cysts. Benign conditions typically have yellow, green, blue or black discharge. A second less common category of nipple discharge may be bloody, clear or colorless. Though this second type of discharge can be produced by benign conditions such as papilloma, it can also be produced by ductal carcinoma in situ, which is malignant. For this reason, the second type of discharge is considered abnormal, and should be evaluated. Additionally, any type of persistent discharge should be investigated. In a ductogram, contrast dye is injected into the duct so that the duct, and anything in the duct, such as a cyst or tumor, can be more easily seen.
During the exam
At the start of the procedure, you will be asked to lie on your back on a stretcher. The radiologist will cleanse the nipple, and gently squeeze on the breast until the discharge occurs. This is done to detect which duct has the discharge. Then a very tiny tube, as thin as the thinnest needle, but with a blunt tip, is placed into that duct. No pressure is used. The radiologist merely guides the tube in using gravity. Once the tube is in place, a small amount of contrast dye is injected. The contrast may give a feeling of fullness, like breast feeding. After the contrast is injected, several mammogram images are taken. The tube is then removed. Total time for the procedure is approximately 1 hour.