A galactocele (also: lacteal cyst or milk cyst) is a retention cyst containing milk or a milky substance that is usually located in the mammary glands. They occur in women during or shortly after lactation.
They present as a firm mass, often subareolar, and are caused by the obstruction of a lactiferous duct. Clinically, they appear similar to a cyst on examination. The duct becomes more distended over time by epithelial cells and milk. It may rarely be complicated by a secondary infection and result in abscess formation.
Once lactation has ended the cyst should resolve on its own without intervention. A galactocele is not normally infected as the milk within is sterile and has no outlet for which to become contaminated.Treatment is by aspiration of the contents or by excision of the cyst. Antibiotics are given to prevent infection.
Galactocele may be associated with oral contraceptive use.
- Oxford Cases in Medicine and Surgery.
- Bhat Sriram, SRB’s Manual of Surgery, 2010, New Delhi
- Case description and discussion at Harvard.edu
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