Here are twenty questions on the anatomy of the breast to test your knowledge.
1. At how many weeks gestation does the mammary ridge or milk line form?
A) 4-5 weeks
B) 9-10 weeks
D) 16-18 weeks
2. During pregnancy, the areola:
B) Does not change
D) A and C
3. Montgomery glands are found in the areola. What is their function?
A) Provide lubrication
B) Inhibit bacterial growth
C) Produce a scent to help the infant find the breast
D) Only A and C
E) A, B and C
4. Montgomery glands are sebaceous glands and they can also produce a small amount of breast milk.1
5. The nipple is made up of smooth muscle fibers. Another fact about the nipple is that during breastfeeding:
A) The nipple length does not change compared to its resting length
B) The nipple extends by 25% of its resting length
C) The nipple extends by 50% of its resting length
D) The nipple doubles in length or extends by 100% of its resting length
6. A mature breast is located between the second rib and the sixth intercostal space:
7. The Tail of Spence extends into the axilla. Another accurate statement about the Tail of Spence is that it:
A) Never produces milk
B) Is connected to the breast tissue ductal system
C) Is not connected to the breast tissue ductal system
D) Rarely enlarges during lactation
8. The supporting tissues of the breast (connective tissue, fat tissue, blood vessels, nerves, lymphatics) are found in the:
9. Most (60%) of the blood supply to the breast comes from the:2
A) Lateral thoracic artery
B) Superior thoracic artery
C) Internal thoracic artery
D) Internal mammary artery
10. The lymphatics of the breast tissue drain mostly to the axillary lymph nodes.
11. Loss of sensation of the nipple and areola is most likely due to a problem with
12. The average number of milk duct openings on the end of the nipple:
13. Milk ducts branch within the areolar radius, very close to the nipple.
C) This is still unclear.
14. What do the milk ducts do during milk ejection?
A) They shorten.
B) They widen.
C) They increase their diameter as the milk flows through them.
D) All of the above
15. Storage of milk occurs in the ductal system.
16. The majority of glandular tissue is found within what radius of the base of the nipple.
A) 30 millimeters
B) 40 millimeters
C) 50 millimeters
D) 60 millimeters
17. Myoepithelial cells surround the alveoli and contract when exposed to:
18. Prolactin is a hormone produced in the ___________ that causes milk production in the mammary tissue.
A) Adrenal cortex
B) Thyroid gland
C) Anterior pituitary gland
D) Posterior pituitary gland
19. The basic unit of mature glandular tissue is the:
C) Milk duct
D) Nipple-alveolar complex
20. The fat in breast milk is produced in:
A) The maternal vascular system
B) The lactocyte
C) The maternal axillary lymph nodes
D) The lactiferous sinus of the milk duct system
8) The answer is B (The stroma contains the supporting tissues of breast; the parenchyma contains the functional parts of breast. How can you remember that? How about: “stroma” starts with s just like “supporting tissue” starts with s.)
11. 4th intercostal nerve
15. B (Remember the ultrasound study from 2005?3 It found that lactiferous sinuses do not exist. Storage of milk does not occur in the ductal system.)
18. C (You know it is the pituitary gland, but is it the anterior or posterior part? I remember this by thinking of PAP, like pap smear – Prolactin Anterior Pituitary – PAP.)
20. B (You can eliminate D right away because lactiferous sinuses do not exist. Now, if you had to guess, you have a one in three chance of getting the answer right – but you know that the lactocyte is the powerhouse cell that lines the alveolus and it does most the work to make the milk!)
Core Curriculum for Lactation Consultant Practice, 3rd edition. Edited by Rebecca Mannel, Patricia J. Martens, and Marsha Walker. Jones & Bartlett Learning. 2013
Wambach K, Spence B. Breastfeeding and Human Lactation, 6th edition. Jones & Bartlett Learning. 2021
Ramsay DT, Kent JC, Hartmann RA, Hartmann PE. Anatomy of the lactating human breast redefined with ultrasound imaging. J Anat. 2005;206:525-534.