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A ductogram is a test that makes pictures of the breast ducts. It is done with a mammogram and special contrast dye.

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Reasons for Procedure

A ductogram is done to look for the cause of abnormal discharge from the nipples.

Possible Complications

Problems are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will go over some problems, like:

  • Reaction to the contrast dye
  • Injury to the duct
  • Infection
  • Pain

Talk to your doctor about these risks before the procedure.

What to Expect

Prior to Procedure

Before the ductogram, your doctor may:

  • Do a physical exam
  • Order tests, such as a mammogram and blood tests
  • Ask you about your health history
  • Ask you about the medicines that you take, including any over the counter products, herbs, and supplements

In the days leading up to the procedure, your doctor will ask you to avoid squeezing any discharge from the nipple. It’s important that there is discharge during the ductogram.

On the day of the ductogram:

  • Be sure to tell the staff if you have ever had a reaction to contrast dye.
  • Eat and drink normally. If you take medicine, you can do this as well.
  • Do not put on deodorant, talcum powder, lotion, or perfume near your breasts or under your arms.
  • Wear comfortable clothing so you can easily remove your shirt.

Description of the Procedure

There are different techniques to do this procedure. You will be asked to lie on your back. The nipple will be cleaned. Then the breast will be squeezed to release discharge. This will help your doctor find out which duct the discharge is coming from. A small, flexible tube will be inserted into the milk duct. The contrast dye will be injected through this tube. X-rays will be taken of the breast after the contrast dye is injected. Lastly, the tube will be removed and a small bandage or pad will be placed over the nipple.

How Long Will It Take?

30-60 minutes

Will It Hurt?

You may feel some discomfort.

Post-procedure Care

You will be able to go home after the ductogram. You can go back to your normal activities. Leave the bandage or pad on since the dye may leak out of the duct.

Talk to your doctor about the results. Your doctor may ask for other tests or procedures if there are any abnormal areas.

Call Your Doctor

Call your doctor if you:

  • Notice any other changes in your breast, such as thickening or a lump
  • Have any other symptoms, such as a reaction to the contrast dye
  • Have signs of infection such as heat, swelling, pain, fever, or chills

If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.


Office on Women’s Health—US Department of Health and Human Services  http://www.womenshealth.gov 

Radiology Info—Radiological Society of North America  http://www.radiologyinfo.org 


Health Canada  https://www.canada.ca 

Women's Health Matters  http://www.womenshealthmatters.ca 


Breast cancer. American Cancer Society website. Available at: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/breast-cancer.html. Accessed July 24, 2018.

Breast ductography. Radiopaedia website. Available at: http://radiopaedia.org/articles/breast-ductography-1. Accessed July 24, 2018.

Ductography: How to and what if? RadioGraphics. 2001;133-150.

Galoctography (ductography). Radiological Society of North America Radiology Info website. Available at: http://www.radiologyinfo.org/en/info.cfm?pg=galactogram. Updated February 25, 2018. Accessed July 24, 2018.

Revision Information

  • Reviewer: EBSCO Medical Review Board Kathleen A. Barry, MD
  • Review Date: 05/2018
  • Update Date: 07/24/2018