Granulomatous lobular mastitis: a complex diagnostic and therapeutic problem

World J Surg. 2006 Aug;30(8):1403-9. doi: 10.1007/s00268-005-0476-0.


Background: Granulomatous lobular mastitis is a rare chronic inflammatory disease of the breast. Clinical and radiological features may mimic breast carcinoma. Since this entity was first described, several clinical and pathologic features of the disease have been reported, but diagnostic features and treatment alternatives are still unclear. The purpose of this study is to evaluate diagnostic difficulties and discuss the outcome of surgical treatment in a series of 21 patients with granulomatous lobular mastitis.

Methods: A retrospective review of 21 patients with histologically confirmed granulomatous lobular mastitis treated in our center between January 1995 and May 2005 was analyzed to identify issues in the diagnosis and treatment of this rare condition.

Results: The most common presenting symptoms were a mass in the breast and pain. Four patients had no significant mammographic findings (MMG), but on ultrasound (US), 2 had irregular hypoechoic mass, and 2 hypoechoic nodular structures had abnormalities-one parenchymal distortion and 1 mass formation in 2 of these 4 patients' magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). In recurrent cases, limited excision under local anesthesia was performed, as the clinical examination suggested carcinoma.

Conclusions: Although some findings on MMG and US are suggestive of benign breast disease, these modalities do not rule out malignancy. MRI may be helpful in patients who do not have significant pathology at MMG or US. Fine-needle aspiration cytology may be useful in some cases but diagnosis is potentially difficult because of its cytologic characteristics. Wide excision, particularly under general anesthesia, can be therapeutic as well as useful in providing an exact diagnosis.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Chronic Disease
  • Female
  • Granuloma
  • Humans
  • Mastectomy
  • Mastitis / diagnosis*
  • Mastitis / drug therapy
  • Mastitis / surgery*
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents