Rhode Island Hospital
Providence, RI 02903
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The Miriam Hospital
164 Summit Avenue
Providence, RI 02906
Galactography generally is used to find the cause of nipple discharge, by examining and collecting cells from the milk ducts of the breast. Since a high percentage of breast cancers begin in the lining of milk ducts, galactography is an important tool in detecting breast cancer early.
Galactography is recommended only for women who are at high risk for breast cancer. As with other breast cancer imaging tools, galactography should not be used in place of mammography.
Galactography is a minimally invasive procedure during which a very thin catheter is placed into the opening of the milk duct at the nipple, and dye is injected to outline the shape of the duct on an x-ray image.
An anesthetic lotion or cream is applied to numb the nipple area. Your radiologist will attempt to withdraw a small amount of fluid from the milk ducts through gentle squeezing or suction. This is necessary to locate the opening of the ducts and to determine which ducts should be tested. Ducts that produce fluid are tested, since abnormal cells are generally found only in those ducts.
Once the natural opening of the duct is located, a tiny catheter is inserted and a small amount of contrast or dye injected. You will then have a mammogram, which will show if there is a tumor inside the duct. Finally, discharge or fluid is drawn from the catheter and tested for abnormal cells.
You may feel temporary fullness, pinching or tingling in the breast during the procedure; however, most women do not find galactography to be any more uncomfortable than a mammogram.
You should prepare for this procedure just as you would for a mammogram: do not use any antiperspirant, deodorant or powder as it can interfere with the clarity of the image.