Nipple markers

Andrew Murphy and Dr Ian Bickle et al.

Nipple markers can be a useful technique in the evaluation of densities overlying the expected position of the nipple on a chest radiograph. Not uncommonly a small round opacity projects over the lower thorax on a chest radiograph (see: solitary pulmonary nodule).

Often, especially in women, this is a nipple shadow - a dense nipple projected over the lung. However, one must be cautious that this is not pathology - in particular, a low-grade lung malignancy (with potential surgical cure).

If in doubt, recall the patient and repeat the study with nipple markers. This can be a small ball-bearing, unravelled paperclip reformed in a triangle around the nipple or other radiopaque markers, which is stuck to the chest with the nipple within or the marker on the nipple. On the repeat film:

  • if the nodule is inside the marker, it is a nipple
  • If the nodule outside the marker, it is something besides nipple (potentially cancer); work-up including CT chest is indicated
Share article

Article information

rID: 19530
System: Breast, Chest
Section: Gamuts, Approach
Tag: refs
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • Nipple marker

Support Radiopaedia and see fewer ads

Cases and figures

  • Case 1
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Case 2
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Case 3
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Case 4
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Updating… Please wait.

     Unable to process the form. Check for errors and try again.

     Thank you for updating your details.