Solitary Dilated Ducts Revisited: Malignancy Rate and Implications for Management

Published:September 14, 2022DOI:

      Rationale and Objectives

      A solitary dilated duct (SDD) is a single asymmetrically dilated breast duct with diameter more than 2 mm. The Breast Imaging Reporting and Data System (BI-RADS) fifth edition recommends additional imaging and biopsy for SDDs without demonstrated benign etiology, however management of this rare entity remains controversial. This study describes practice patterns, malignancy rate, and features associated with high-risk/malignant SDDs to better stratify patients requiring biopsy versus follow-up.

      Materials and Methods

      This IRB-approved retrospective study identified mammographic, sonographic and MRI exams utilizing the term “solitary dilated duct” at a multisite academic institution between 1/1/2010 and 12/31/2020. Clinical and imaging features, BI-RADS assessments, and outcomes were analyzed. Univariate and multivariate analyses identified predictors of high-risk/malignant histology.


      SDDs identified in 49 women (mean age 56.1 years) were assessed as BI-RADS 4/5 (31/49, 63%), BI-RADS 3 (9/49, 18%), or BI-RADS 2 (9/49, 18%). Most sampled lesions were benign (16/31, 52%) and the remaining were high-risk (15/31, 48%, all papillary lesions). The only papilloma with atypia on core biopsy upgraded to grade 2 DCIS on excision (malignancy rate 1/49, 2%). All anechoic SDDs were benign (n=13), and all benign SDDs lacked internal vascularity. SDDs with associated masses were associated with malignant/high-risk outcomes on multivariate analysis (p < .001).


      The BI-RADS fifth edition recommends biopsy for SDDs without demonstrated benign etiology. In our 11-year study period, practice patterns were variable with a low malignancy rate of 2%. Our findings suggest that anechoic SDDs may be followed, and SDDs with associated masses or internal vascularity require biopsy.

      Key words


      SDD (solitary dilated duct), BI-RADS (breast imaging reporting and data system), DCIS (ductal carcinoma in situ)
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