Who can suffer from abnormally dilated milk ducts?
Anyone can get ductectasis. However, the condition is more common in women approaching menopause. It can also occur after menopause.
Causes of Ductectasis
Ductectasis is caused by natural breast changes that occur with age. Breasts have milk-producing glands known as lobes and ducts that carry milk to the nipple. Fibrous, adipose and glandular tissue surround the lobes and ducts to give the breast its distinct shape and density.
Ectasia of the milk duct is the result of inflammation (swelling). This inflammation causes the milk ducts in the breast to widen and thicken. As the inflammation worsens, the milk ducts become clogged and fluid builds up behind the blockage.
While the exact cause of this inflammation is unknown, researchers believe that a bacterial infection of the milk ducts makes a woman more likely to develop ductectasis.
Signs and Symptoms of Duct Ecstasy
When you suffer from this condition, you may experience some discomfort. Signs and symptoms of ductectasis include:
- Breast Pain and Tenderness
- Abnormal Nipple Discharge
- Feeling a lump under the nipple
- Drawing in the nipple as a result of the milk ducts shortening
- Swelling, redness and inflammation in the nipple area
- Fever due to the associated infection
How is this condition of the milk ducts diagnosed?
Ductectasis is usually diagnosed during breast imaging. For example for research into nipple discharge or breast problems.
Is there a treatment?
Most cases of duct ecstasy do not require treatment as it is a normal aging process and symptoms often improve on their own.
However, if symptoms persist, your doctor may recommend further measures, including the following:
- Prescribing antibiotics to treat the underlying infection
- Using warm compresses to relieve pain and discomfort
- Surgical removal of the affected duct through a small surgical cut along the outer edge of the areola (the dark circular area of skin around the nipple). This procedure is usually performed under anesthesia in an outpatient clinic. The surgery will leave a small scar, but this will fade over time
What Complications Are Associated With Ductectasis?
Left untreated, this bacterial infection can cause a more widespread infection and tissue damage. However, it does not increase the risk of breast cancer.
Can ectasia of the milk duct be prevented?
There is no way to prevent ductectasis. Some research suggests that certain lifestyle factors may increase your chance of developing this condition. These factors include:
- To smoke
- Diabetes mellitus
Maintaining a healthy weight and lifestyle, smoking cessation and diabetes control can all help prevent the development of duct ectasia.
What is the outlook if you have ductectasis?
Most women recover from milk duct ectasia without treatment. Women who do require treatment usually make a full recovery without complications.