Surgery to treat nipple discharge

HCA UK experts talk you through microdoductectomy, or total duct excision, surgery that removes one or more milk ducts.

What is a microdoductectomy?

Microdoductectomy, also known as total duct excision, is a surgical procedure that removes one or more milk ducts.

It’s commonly used to treat people experiencing nipple discharge, to help determine the cause of the discharge as well as those with fibrocystic (lumpy) breasts.

Need to know

  • What happens during treatment? icon plus

    Imaging tests such as an X-ray or ultrasound may be used to determine if microdoductectomy is the best treatment.

    The treatment lasts about 30 minutes under general anaesthetic, which means you’ll be asleep. A small incision is made around your areola and the affected ducts and tissue is removed and examined to determine the cause of the nipple discharge. Dissolvable stitches will be used to carefully stitch the cut together.

    Usually, the cause is duct ectasia (widening of the milk ducts) or sometimes it is intraduct papilloma (a non-cancerous growth in the milk duct). In some people, early cancer cells are discovered, but this is quite rare.
  • How to prepare icon plus

    Before the operation you’ll have a few basic tests including blood pressure and a blood test, and your consultant will advise you about any medication that may be needed on the day of the operation.

    Side-effects may include:

    • pain – you are likely to experience pain around the area that is operated on for a few days
    • changes to the nipple – such as loss of sensation in the nipple or changes to the skin
    • breastfeeding – this will become problematic if all of the milk ducts are removed
    • bleeding and infection – these are both extremely rare, with less that 5% of women experiencing each of these side effects
  • After treatment icon plus

    You’ll probably feel drowsy and nauseous when you wake up and you may have an oxygen mask over your face. If you are feeling uncomfortable, nurses will be on hand to offer help and pain relief.

    You may need to stay in overnight, depending on how long it takes you to recover from the anaesthetic.

    It’s a good idea to wear a bra straightaway to provide support. Avoid driving for at least 24 hours and don’t do any heavy lifting or strenuous activity for the first week. You may find it helps to take a few days off work while your recover.

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This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.
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