traumatic breast fat necrosis

Last reviewed 01/2018

Traumatic fat necrosis may follow trivial or unnoticed injury. Clinically, it may be difficult to differentiate from carcinoma.

Fat exuded from injured adipocytes incites a foreign body giant cell reaction with subsequent fibrosis and calcification.

Examination usually reveals a hard, irregular lump which may be tethered to the skin and accompanied by enlarged axillary lymph nodes. A history of trauma, evidence of injury, or shrinkage of the lump supports the diagnosis of fat necrosis.

Excision biopsy is required to exclude malignancy with certainty. A section through the lump reveals a pale, fibrous mass which may contain central fluid fat or chalky material.