Needle in the breast

Case contributed by Dr Giorgio M Baratelli


Palpable and painful subcutaneous mass in the submammary fold of the lower medial quadrant of the left breast

Patient Data

Age: 70 years
Gender: Female

Mammography showed a sewing needle in the breast.

Case Discussion

When asked, the patient answered that she was a tailor and she used to pin the needles on clothes. She did not remember when the needle penetrated the skin of the  breast - it may have happened 10 years ago.

The needle was removed through a small incision under local anesthesia. Ampicillin (1 gram bid) was given for three days. The patient had an injection of tetanus immunoglobulin and tetanus prophylaxis was started.

She made an uneventful recovery.

Foreign bodies in the breast are mostly seen after surgical procedures or silicone/paraffin injections.

They may remain silent for a long time until they cause inflammation, pain or mastitis.

Reaction to a foreign body may be confused with breast malignancy.

The case reported is rare and interesting in that its cause was not iatrogenic, but an accidentally-inserted needle, remaining there for many years without the development of any symptoms.

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