The breast refers to the front of the chest or, more specifically, to the mammary gland. The mammary gland is a milk producing gland. It is composed largely of fat. Within the mammary gland is a complex network of branching ducts. These ducts exit from sac-like structures called lobules, which can produce milk in females. The ducts exit the breast at the nipple.
The breast has been viewed as an organ designed to produce milk. The lobules are the glands that produce the breast milk. The ducts are tubes or channels which transport the milk from these glands out to the nipple. The nipple becomes erect because of cold, breast feeding and sexual activity. The pigmented area around the nipple is called the areola.
The lobules and ducts are supported in the breast by surrounding fatty tissue and ligaments. There are no muscles in the breast.
There are blood vessels and lymphatics in the breast. The lymphatics are thin channels similar to blood vessels; they do not carry blood but collect and carry tissue fluid which ultimately reenters the blood stream. Breast tissue fluid drains through the lymphatics into the lymph nodes located in the underarm (axilla) and behind the breast bone (sternum).
Although the primary biologic function of the breast is to make milk to feed a baby, the breast has for many centuries been a symbol of femininity and beauty. The appearance of the normal female breast differs greatly between individuals and at different times during a woman’s life — before, during and after adolescence, during pregnancy, during the menstrual cycle, and after menopause.
Picture of the anatomy of the breast
- Breast abscess
Breast abscess: A local accumulation of pus within the breast due to infection. Symptoms may include painful local swelling of the breast, a breast lump, and redness and tenderness of the breast. If the abscess forms in spite of antibiotics, it may need to be incised and drained, a minor surgical procedure, in order to […]
- Breast absence
Breast absence: A rare condition wherein the normal growth of the breast or nipple never takes place. They are congenitally absent. There is no sign whatsoever of the breast tissue, areola or nipple. There is nothing there. Absence of the breast (also called, amastia) is frequently not alone as the only problem. Unilateral amastia (amastia […]
- Breast aplasia
Breast aplasia: A rare condition wherein the normal growth of the breast or nipple never takes place. They are congenitally absent. There is no sign whatsoever of the breast tissue, areola or nipple. There is nothing there. Breast aplasia (also called, amastia) is frequently not alone as the only problem. Unilateral amastia (amastia just on […]
- Breast augmentation
Artificial enlargement of the breasts. Breast augmentation may be done by insertion of a silicone bag (prosthesis) under the breast (submammary) or under the breast and chest muscle (subpectoral), after which the bag is filled with saline solution. This prosthesis expands the breast area to give the appearance of a fuller breast (increased cup size).
- Breast biopsy
A procedure in which a sample of a suspicious breast growth is removed and examined, usually for the presence of cancer. The sample is suctioned out through a needle or removed surgically. A breast biopsy may be done in a doctor’s office, outpatient facility, or hospital operating room. The setting depends on the size and […]