Role of radiologic features in the management of papillary lesions of the breast

AJR Am J Roentgenol. 2006 May;186(5):1322-7. doi: 10.2214/AJR.04.1908.


Objective: The purpose of our study was to assess the role of imaging and core biopsy in the management of patients with papillary lesions of the breast.

Materials and methods: Clinical records and mammographic and sonographic findings of 40 women with papillary lesions in the breast were retrieved. The imaging features and cytologic findings were correlated with histologic findings.

Results: Fifty-six papillary lesions in 40 patients underwent either mastectomy, segmental duct resection, or excision biopsy. There were three papillary carcinomas, 13 papillaryal lesions with carcinoma in situ, one atypical papilloma, four sclerosed papillomata, and 35 papillomata. Of these lesions, 37.5% (21/56) and 82.1% (46/56) could be detected on mammography and sonography, respectively. Galactography and dilated ducts helped to suggest the papillary nature of the lesions. However, mammography and sonography were not able to predict malignancy (sensitivity, 69% and 56%, respectively; specificity, 25% and 90%; positive predictive value [PPV], 60% and 75%; and negative predictive value [NPV], 33% and 90%). Combined interpretation of mammography and sonography gave a sensitivity of 61%, specificity of 33%, PPV of 85%, and NPV of 13%. Fine-needle aspiration gave a sensitivity of 44%, specificity of 68%, PPV of 31%, and NPV of 79%, whereas core biopsy gave a sensitivity of 82%, specificity of 100%, PPV of 100%, and NPV of 83% in the diagnosis of malignancy.

Conclusion: Radiologic features are not sufficiently sensitive or specific to differentiate benign from malignant papillary lesions. Fine-needle aspiration and core biopsy have pitfalls, and the need for surgical excision of all papillary lesions should be revisited.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Biopsy
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Breast Neoplasms / surgery
  • Carcinoma, Papillary / diagnosis*
  • Carcinoma, Papillary / surgery
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mammography
  • Middle Aged
  • Ultrasonography, Mammary