Sunday, 10 May 2009

When three is a crowd….

I’ve often heard the term ‘a third nipple’ but I've never looked into it until today. Whilst preparing for a demonstrating session about mammary glands, I came across the term ‘polymastia’ and ‘polythelia’, otherwise known as an extra breast and an extra nipple, respectively. Immediately intrigued by this, I googled it and found images of these breasts and nipples. One particular case that caught my attention was a breast and nipple on the sole of a woman’s foot! A 22-year old woman sought medical attention for a lesion which she had on her left foot since birth (see picture below). The lesion was identified as a pseudomamma: incomplete breast tissue and a nipple. Further histological examination (examining tissue under a microscope) of the lesion confirmed the diagnosis as class 5 pseudomamma based on the Kajava classification system. The presence of fat, a nipple, an areola, and the absence of glandular tissue classified the lesion as a pseudomamma. This was the first known diagnosis of a pseudomamma on the sole of a foot. The patient eventually had the pseudomamma removed.
Pseudomamma on the foot

In further readings, I discovered that the phenomenon of extra breast tissue (either nipple or breast) was a lot more common than thought. Approximately 1-5% of the population present with this, although it occurs more commonly on the back, shoulders, face (yikes!) and thighs. Additionally, I discovered that extra breast tissue, when containing glandular tissue, is susceptible to diseases of normal breasts (cancer) and even monthly cyclical alterations of breasts induced by hormones ie. swelling, pain and sometimes even milk secretion. Fortunatley for the woman in this case, her pseudomamma was asymptomatic (ie. showing no symptoms). Imagine having to walk on a breast at certain times of the month. Ouch!

(1) Conde DM, Kashimoto E, Torresan RZ and Alvarenga M (2006) Pseudomamma on the foot: An unusual presentation of supernumerary breast tissue. Dermatology Journal Online. 12(4).
(3) Fleurs des Champs image: Wikimedia Commons

Friday, 8 May 2009

Questions for Dr. Karl, part III

I was listening to a radio interview a few nights ago where the interviewer was interviewing a blind person whose sight had slowly deteriorated over-time through his life, eventually leaving him fully blind. I found the interview fascinating as the interviewee was describing many facets of life for the blind which i had not previously thought about. Soon after i found myself wondering what blind people see in their dreams. If you are blind from birth, what do you dream? Will you see images, pictures, colours, etc. If you lose your sight later on in life, will you continue to see images in your dreams as had done before you lost your sight? Or will your dreams eventually become similar to someone who has been blind from birth?