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Fat Necrosis of the Breast

Jesinger, Robert A. MD; Lovell, Diane M. MD; Lee, Vincent MD

Contemporary Diagnostic Radiology: December 31st, 2010 - Volume 33 - Issue 26 - p 1–5
doi: 10.1097/01.CDR.0000392732.45579.b8

Fat necrosis is a noncancerous inflammatory condition thought to involve a vascular insult to adipose cells.1 This condition is most often encountered in the breast, abdomen, and extremities with a potential risk factor being obesity. The cause for fat necrosis in most cases is unknown, but common potential causes include blunt trauma, surgery, and radiotherapy. In cases of whole-breast irradiation, up to 30% of patients may develop fat necrosis, and up to 8% of patients present with clinical symptoms related to fat necrosis. Fat necrosis can progress, remain the same, or resolve. Fat necrosis can mimic breast cancer, both clinically and on imaging, especially in progressive cases associated with breast deformity.2–7

This article reviews the clinical, imaging, and pathologic features of fat necrosis of the breast, which will enable radiologists to better assess the clinical presentations and imaging appearances of fat necrosis of the breast on mammography, breast ultrasound, and breast MRI and more confidently suggest appropriate treatment.

Dr. Jesinger is Program Director, Diagnostic Radiology Residency, David Grant USAF Medical Center, and Assistant Professor of Radiology, Department of Radiology and Radiological Sciences, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, 4301 Jones Bridge Road, Bethesda, MD 20814; E-mail:; and Dr. Lovell is Chief of Women's Imaging and Dr. Lee is Radiation Oncologist, Departments of Radiology and Radiation Oncology, David Grant USAF Medical Center, Travis AFB, California.

The authors and all editors and staff in a position to control the content of this CME activity and their spouses/life partners (if any) have disclosed that they have no relationships with, or financial interest in, any commercial organization pertaining to this educational activity.

The views expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not reflect the official policy or position of the US Government, the Department of Defense, or the Department of the Air Force.

Lippincott Continuing Medical Education Institute, Inc., is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians. Lippincott Continuing Medical Education Institute, Inc., designates this enduring material for a maximum of 1.5 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™. Physicians should only claim credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity. To earn CME credit, you must read the CME article and complete the quiz and evaluation on the enclosed answer form, answering at least seven of the 10 quiz questions correctly. This continuing medical education activity expires on February 21, 2011.

Copyright © 2010 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.
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