Table 1

The ultrasonic appearances of the structures of the non-lactating and lactating breast

Structures of the breast

Non-lactating breast

Lactating breast


Adipose tissue

Hypoechoic, variable

Large breasts often contain a large proportion of adipose tissue

Hypoechoic, variable

Large breasts often contain a large proportion of adipose tissue


Milk ducts

Hypoechoic/isoechoic

Echogenic walls may be visible

Generally non-compressible

Do not distend

2 mm or less (>2 mm considered ductal ectasia)

Hypoechoic, can contain echogenic flecks representing milk fat globules Echogenic walls may be visible

Easily compressible

Distend at milk ejection

Resting state – 2 mm (1–10 mm)


Skin

Hyperechoic (1–3 mm)

Hyperechoic

Thicker in the areolar region


Coopers ligaments

Hyperechoic

Hyperechoic


Stromal fibrous tissue

Hyperechoic/isoechoic

Predominantly hyperechoic – tends to be more echogenic with more milk in the breast


Arteries and veins

Hypoechoic

Hypoechoic


Geddes International Breastfeeding Journal 2009 4:4   doi:10.1186/1746-4358-4-4

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