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Table 1 The ultrasonic appearances of the structures of the non-lactating and lactating breast

From: Ultrasound imaging of the lactating breast: methodology and application

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