A variety of methods may be used to define the breast volume:
1. weighing the breast on a scale, which can be done with pendulous breasts;
2. using a water-filled container placed over the breast and into which the breast is placed. Since the volume of water in the container is known, the breast size can be calculated from the amount of water displaced;
3. making a cast of the breast, and the volume of the breast is measured from the cast;
4. measuring the breast size with a special breast-measuring cylinder of Plexiglas with a fitted domed piston and a scale, from which the breast size can be read.
Instruments Calipers, tape-measure, solid ruler, or, for breast volume, a Plexiglas cylinder with a domed piston.
Position The individual should stand or sit with the arms hanging loosely. The measurements with a tape-measure or calipers are taken from along the side of the breast.
If a cylinder is used to assess breast volume, the breast is placed in the cylinder, and the position of the piston is read off the scale.
Remarks There are a variety of normal shapes of the female breast (Fig. 10.18). Usually the left breast is slightly larger than the right.
Measurement of Breast Volume
The female breast can have different, normal forms: Asymmetry of breast development is not unusual.
Bowl-shaped: The anterior projection is smaller than the radius of the circumference
Hemispherical: The anterior projection is equal to the radius of the circumference
Conical: The anterior projection is greater than the radius
Dependent: The nipples are pointing downwards
Figure 10.18 Breast shapes. From Martin and Sailer (1962), by permission.
Asymmetric development (anisomastia) and overgrowth of breast tissue (macromastia) can be part of specific syndromes.
A small amount of breast development is often present in the newborn due to maternal hormones. It is usually not pathological. Mild breast development in males frequently occurs around puberty.
Ptosis of the breast means drooping of the breast, so that in an upright position the lower surface of the breast is below the lower insertion on the thorax (submammary fold) and the skin of the breast is in direct contact with the skin of the thorax. Ptosis of the breast occurs with aging and after nursing and multiple pregnancies. To measure ptosis of the breast, the woman is seated and a tape-measure is placed from the middle of the clavicle down to the nipple. Alternatively, an imaginary horizontal line can be drawn between the nipples and the distance from the top of the manubrium to the nipple line measured. The normal position of the nipple is 21-23 cm from the top of the manubrium.
Areola measurements include diameter and prominence from the breast tissue. The diameter of the nipple is very variable, as is the diameter of the areola. On average, the adult female areola measures 3-4 cm in diameter.
Instruments The nipple diameter can be measured with a plastic template circular cut-outs, calipers, or a transparent ruler.
Remarks Significant differences in nipple diameter can be noted between stages B1 to B5 of breast development during puberty. Nipple size can be a useful measurement in girls with primary amenorrhoea. Girls with a large nipple diameter (greater than 0.7 cm) can be considered to have undergone hormonal stimulation.
Abnormalities of the nipple include extra or accessory nipples along the "milk line," absent or hypoplastic nipples (as in Poland anomaly, where part of the pectoral muscle and limb may also be missing), polythelia (more than one nipple on a breast), and inverted nipples (the tip of the nipple is directed inward and does not protrude from the areola). Hypoplasia or absence of the nipple and/or the mammary gland may be seen in ectodermal dysplasia.
Was this article helpful?
If Pregnancy Is Something That Frightens You, It's Time To Convert Your Fear Into Joy. Ready To Give Birth To A Child? Is The New Status Hitting Your State Of Mind? Are You Still Scared To Undergo All The Pain That Your Best Friend Underwent Just A Few Days Back? Not Convinced With The Answers Given By The Experts?