The aim of this study was to determine number and diameter of milk ducts in the nipple and to investigate the possible influences of age, breast weight, and diameter of the nipple on the number of ducts. Two hundred and twenty-six carcinoma mastectomy specimens were weighed and the nipple diameters measured. The number of ducts was counted in histological cross sections. Mean diameter of the nipple and mean breast weight were 13.9 mm and 844.6 g, respectively. There was a small but statistically significant positive correlation between nipple diameter and number of milk ducts (rho = 0.158; p = 0.01), but no correlation with breast weight. The mean number of ducts in the nipple duct bundle was 17.5. This is significantly higher than the number of ducts reported to open on the nipple surface. This discrepancy could reflect duct branching within the nipple or the presence of some ducts which do not reach the nipple surface. Smaller breast ducts (diameter < 0.5 mm) represent nearly 50% of the nipple ducts and could be a challenge to the ductoscopy technology.
Copyright 2006 S. Karger AG, Basel.