What Causes Periductal Mastitis?

Periductal mastitis is a condition that occurs when the lactiferous or the milk ducts present below the nipples and/or the areola get inflamed and infected. This happens because the ducts get clogged or obstructed due to collection of fluid in the ducts. It is a non-cancerous condition and it does not make you more prone to getting a breast cancer in the future. Periductal mastitis can be seen in both lactational and non-lactational women. It can also be seen in menopausal women.

What Causes Periductal Mastitis?

What Causes Periductal Mastitis?

  • Mastitis can be seen in women who are not lactating or breastfeeding.
  • The main cause for periductal mastitis in non-lactating women is an infection caused by an injury to the breast.
  • The injury can lead to a cracked nipple and this may introduce a bacterial infection in the breasts.
  • Periductal mastitis usually affects women who are in the age of 20-30.
  • This is more commonly seen in women who have a habit of smoking, than those who are non-smokers.
  • Periductal mastitis is sometimes seen as a complication of duct ectasia.
  • Duct ectasia is a result of shortening and widening of the milk ducts below the nipple or areola.
  • This usually happens as a part of aging process and is seen to be occurring more in the menopausal women.

There are several causes of mastitis. One of the most common causes of mastitis in lactating women is milk stasis. Milk stasis is a condition wherein the breast milk is not properly or completely removed from the breasts when a baby is breastfeeding. Milk stasis can be caused by many reasons, including but not limited to-

  • A baby unable to attach correctly to the breast while breastfeeding
  • If the baby is not properly attached to the breasts, the milk may not get removed properly and completely, leaving some milk behind
  • This leftover milk can attract a bacterial infection

A baby able to latch but unable to suck-on the breast properly:

For an instance, if a baby is affected by a tongue-tie, meaning that his tongue is attached to the floor of his mouth with a piece of skin, it may result in baby unable to suck-on properly

Missed feeding:

If the feeds are missed due to infrequent feedings or maybe if the baby starts taking longer naps or sleeping through the night, it may result in getting the breast full and incomplete removal of breast milk, leading to the collection of milk and thereby infection

Feeding on one breast:

  • If one breast is more used, maybe in case of a sore nipple on the other breast, it may result in accumulation of milk in that breast while the normal breast is being emptied more frequently
  • This can result in infection if the milk gets collected and infected
  • An injury to the breast:
  • A severe injury to the breast may lead to damaged milk ducts or mammary glands, which can result in the blockage and in turn infection

Compressed breasts:

If the breasts are under constant pressure like from mis-fitting bra or sleeping on the front, the abnormal pressure may result in the ducts getting damaged and obstructed

Diagnosis Of Periductal Mastitis

Periductal mastitis is usually diagnosed using following methods-

  • A thorough physical examination of the breasts can help in diagnosing the condition
  • Ultrasound scanning using sound waves at a certain frequency can produce images that can help in diagnosing periductal mastitis
  • Fine needle aspiration can be done to obtain a sample of the cells for a lab examination
  • If there is a discharge from the nipples, a sample of the discharge can be sent to the lab for a detailed examination and a confirmed diagnosis

Periductal mastitis is a condition in which the lactiferous or milk ducts get inflamed and infected due to various causes. It is a non-cancerous condition and does not make you more prone to breast cancer in future.

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:July 22, 2019

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