Anatomy of the nipple and breast ducts revisited.

Love SM, Barsky SH.
Cancer. 2004 Nov 1;101(9):1947-57.


BACKGROUND: Increasing interest in the intraductal approach to the breast has necessitated revisiting the anatomy of the breast.

METHODS: Using six different complementary in vivo and in vitro approaches, the authors determined the number, distribution, and anatomic properties of the ductal systems of the breast, which extend from the nipple orifices to the terminal duct lobular units.

RESULTS: More than 90% of all nipples examined contained 5-9 ductal orifices, generally arranged as a central group and a peripheral group. Each nipple orifice communicated with a separate, nonanastomosing ductal system, which extended to the terminal duct lobular unit.

CONCLUSIONS: Increased knowledge of the ductal anatomy of the breast and the ability to access the nipple ductal orifices will provide a foundation for the intraductal approach to the breast.

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