Fat necrosis - breast


With needle biopsies mostly used for diagnosis these days, we are seeing less and less gross fat necrosis compared with 20 years ago. The protean manifestations of fat necrosis on mammogram and ultrasound can confuse if you are not aware of the diagnosis, the way it presents and how it can change with time.

In my experience fat necrosis changes with time and can do so quite remarkably on serial follow up imaging. The area is usually related to open surgery or direct breast trauma. Potential confusion arises when the necrotic fat starts to calcify and initially the calcifications may even mimic malignant breast calcifications. The process of calcification can continue long after surgery. I have seen cases where the calcification has changes 2 or 3 years after the surgery. The ultrasound imaging can be just as confusing unless you have a heads up about the surgery.

The calcification usually starts as a peripheral curvilinear thin eggshell rim and then progresses from there.

Also, be aware that the area of fat necrosis can be quite far from the surgical scar in some cases.

As always, compare with previous and read the technologist's sheet. The surgery is marked out for you.