Revised Breast Anatomy


For more than 160 years, anatomical illustrations of the duct system of the female breast have been based upon the work of Sir Astley Pastor Cooper. Sir Cooper's skill, persistence and natural deductive facility allowed him to described the anatomy of the breast with a significant degree of fidelity.

Figure 1, is a depiction of a wax injection cast prepared by Sir Cooper. Sir Cooper injected cadaver ducts at the nipple with yellow, red, green, blue, and black wax. The colors allow spatial identification of lobes and lobules associated with each duct .

Unfortunately, the tools and processes available to Sir Cooper, i.e., necropsy, boiling and injection with hot wax, appear to have induced an artifact that has only recently been revealed. The dilated ducts located directly below the nipple have been presumed to be anatomically correct and have come to be known as lactiferous sinuses. Lactiferous sinuses were believed to be milk reservoirs important to effective suckling. Sir Cooper described the diameter of the milk reservoirs thusly, "Their calibre is out of all proportion larger than that of the straight or mamillary tubes, and much larger than that of the milk tubes, which form their continuations".

Using high resolution ultrasound technology, D. Ramsey et al. investigated the anatomy of the human lactating female breast. The investigators found:


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