Ductography is an x-ray examination that uses mammography, a low-dose x-ray system for examining breasts, and a contrast material to obtain pictures, called galactograms, of the inside of the breast's milk ducts.

The most common use of galactography is to evaluate a woman who has a bloody or clear discharge from her breast nipple and an otherwise normal mammogram.

Galactography is typically NOT called for in women with the following conditions:

  • A discharge that is milky, yellow, green, black or gray is usually not a cause for concern, especially if it comes from multiple ducts in the breast.
  • A discharge that is from both breasts in a woman who has not had children may indicate a side effect from a drug, or may be related to a pituitary problem located in the brain.

How Should I Prepare?

  • Wear a comfortable two-piece outfit as you will be asked to undress from the waist up.
  • Very little preparation is necessary for this procedure. The only requirement is that the nipple not be squeezed prior to the exam, as sometimes there is only a small amount of fluid and it is necessary to see where that fluid is coming from to perform the exam.
  • You should inform your physician of any medications you are taking and if you have any allergies, especially to barium or iodinated contrast materials.
  • Do not wear deodorant, lotion, or powder on your breasts, chest or under arms the day of the procedure.

What Should I Expect?

A ductogram is a diagnostic tool used to identify a particular duct, which is a small opening in the nipple, where a discharge has been observed. You will be asked to undress above the waist and lie on your back with your arms above your head. The radiologist will identify the duct using a magnifying glass and will insert a tiny catheter into the duct. The duct is a natural opening that should be dilated due to the discharge. Once the catheter is inserted, the radiologist will fill the duct with a radio-opaque dye that shows up on a mammogram. A mammogram is done after the ductogram to show the outline of the duct. Once the catheter is removed, the duct will discharge the dye.

How Do I Get the Results?

A dedicated breast radiologist will interpret your exam. The technologist who assists with the test cannot interpret or discuss what they are viewing while performing the exam. A report will be sent to your physician’s office to discuss results.