IS Case 430: Galactocele

Sara Ann Majewski, MD

University of Rochester

Imaging Sciences URMC 2010
Publication Date: 2010-08-27


atient is a 39-year-old female who is 9 weeks postpartum with a palpable lump in the right breast.


Imaging findings on ultrasound vary based on fat and water components and may be very homogeneously hyperechoic or mixed echogenicity.




Galactocele is the most common benign breast lesion in lactating women. It often manifests after breast-feeding stops when milk is stationary. They are cysts containing milky liquid, frequently have inflammatory or necrotic debris and are often surrounded by a variable-thickness fibrous wall that may be associated inflammation. Galactoceles may contain protein, fat and lactose. They result from duct dilatation. Aspiration is diagnostic and therapeutic. Patients have a normal, thinner consistency of milk during lactation. Thicker milk results from older lesions after cessation of lactation.

On ultrasound, galactoceles look like complicated cysts. Their appearance is secondary to fat and water content. When the galactoceles contain mainly milk, they can look like a benign solid tumor, with the appearance of a well-defined mass containing highly echogenic material and posterior acoustic enhancement. When they contain old milk and water, they are heterogeneous masses with mixed echogenicity. Galactoceles can also contain fat-fluid levels.


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