Abscess in the non-lactating breast: radiodiagnostic aspects

Australas Radiol. 1996 Aug;40(3):223-5. doi: 10.1111/j.1440-1673.1996.tb00390.x.


The value of mammography and ultrasound in evaluating abscesses in the non-lactating breast was assessed in 20 patients. Inflammatory breast masses in the non-lactating period are uncommon and the clinical diagnosis can be very difficult when signs of inflammation are absent. There were 20 patients ranging in age from 25 to 60 years in the present study; the mean age was 39.35 years. Patients presented with a lump and/or pain without other clinical signs of inflammation. Mammography was performed to exclude malignancy. Mammograms showed an ill-defined mass in 11 patients and an area of focal increased density in seven patients. Ultrasonograms showed echoic masses with central echopenia in 17 cases and central septation in three cases. Half the lesions were subareolar and half were peripheral. Two of 20 patients were treated by excision, three by incision and drainage, eight by aspiration and seven by antibiotics. The combination of mammographic and sonographic features may enable the radiologist to recognize this entity, thus preventing unnecessary surgery.

MeSH terms

  • Abscess / diagnosis*
  • Adult
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mammography*
  • Mastitis / diagnosis*
  • Middle Aged
  • Ultrasonography, Mammary*