CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 · Indographics 2023; 02(01): 20-27
DOI: 10.1055/s-0043-1771196
Original Article

When Friend Becomes Foe: Complications of Fibroadenoma Imaging Spectrum

Pallavi Kar
1   Department of Breast Imaging, Medanta-The Medicity, Gurgaon, Haryana, India
Jyoti Arora
2   Department of Radiology, Medanta-The Medicity, Gurgaon, Haryana, India
› Author Affiliations


Fibroadenoma are the most common benign breast lesions. Complications in fibroadenoma although rare in occurrence, are reported. It is important to be aware of the possible complications, both benign and malignant which may require surgical management. Commonly encountered benign complications in a fibroadenoma are infarction, rapid increase in size, and lactational changes. A common differential of a giant fibroadenoma is phyllodes tumor which has subtle imaging differences. Malignant transformation of a fibroadenoma is very rare although cases are reported (0.02%). Breast is a dynamic organ and is influenced by the hormone surges occurring typically during pregnancy and lactation, it causes changes in morphology of prior existing fibroadenoma which may mimic like a malignancy and hence knowledge of these benign complications in a fibroadenoma is also important. To identify the subtle radiologic imaging features which may suggest complication developing in a known fibroadenoma, prompting for a histopathological examination correlation. In this article, we discuss the imaging features of complications in a fibroadenoma—benign and malignant. Sinister etiology secondarily engulfing a fibroadenoma and sinister focus developing in a fibroadenoma will be discussed. Also, the benign complications in a fibroadenoma like lactational changes, spontaneous infarction within a fibroadenoma, and excessive increase in the size of fibroadenoma with degenerative changes due to the estrogen and progesterone effect which can mimic like a malignancy will be illustrated. A careful history, meticulous scanning, close monitoring, and histopathological correlation is invaluable to identify these complications in a known fibroadenoma and thus guide in the appropriate management of these lesions.

Publication History

Article published online:
05 October 2023

© 2023. Indographics. This is an open access article published by Thieme under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonDerivative-NonCommercial License, permitting copying and reproduction so long as the original work is given appropriate credit. Contents may not be used for commercial purposes, or adapted, remixed, transformed or built upon. (

Thieme Medical and Scientific Publishers Pvt. Ltd.
A-12, 2nd Floor, Sector 2, Noida-201301 UP, India

  • References

  • 1 Fornage BD, Lorigan JG, Andry E. Fibroadenoma of the breast: sonographic appearance. ERadiology 1989; 172 (03) 671-675
  • 2 Plaza MJ, Swintelski C, Yaziji H, Torres-Salichs M, Esserman LE. Phyllodes tumor: review of key imaging characteristics. Breast Dis 2015; 35 (02) 79-86
  • 3 El-Essawy MAL, Haidary A, Khan AL. Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) in breast fibroadenoma. Egypt J Radiol Nucl Med 2020; 51: 1-7
  • 4 Lee SE, Bae YK. Breast lesions during pregnancy and lactation: a pictorial essay. Ultrasonography 2020; 39 (03) 298-310
  • 5 Maia AF, Solinho M, Vicente Costa R, Alves O, Nogueira M. The importance of carefully evaluating breast masses during pregnancy. Acta Med Port 2023; 36 (02) 143-144
  • 6 Tan PH. Fibroepithelial lesions revisited: implications for diagnosis and management. Mod Pathol 2021; 34 (Suppl. 01) 15-37
  • 7 Sharma BB, Bhardwaj N, Dewan S, Aziz MR. Adolescent fibroadenoma (Breast” Mouse”)–role of Radiology in assisting diagnosis: a case report. European Journal of Medical Case Reports. 2017; 1: 5-9
  • 8 Cha Y, Kim HW, Kim HS, Won TW. Spontaneous infarction of phyllodes tumor of the breast in a postpartum woman: a case report. J Korean Soc Radiol 2017; 77 (05) 327-332