Near-Infrared Fluorescence Imaging for Real-Time Intraoperative Anatomical Guidance in Minimally Invasive Surgery: A Systematic Review of the Literature

Rutger M. Schols*, Niels J. Connell, Laurents P. S. Stassen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

60 Citations (Web of Science)


Near-infrared fluorescence (NIRF) imaging, using contrast agents with fluorescent characteristics in the near-infrared (NIR: 700-900 nm) window, is considered to possess great potential for clinical practice in the future of minimally invasive surgery (MIS), given its capacity for intraoperative, real-time anatomical navigation, and identification. The aim of this review is to provide an overview of the literature concerning the current and potential future applications of fluorescence imaging in supporting anatomical guidance during MIS, and thereby guiding future research. A systematic literature search was performed in the PubMed and Embase databases. All identified articles were screened and checked for eligibility by two authors. In addition, literature was sought by screening references of eligible articles. After administration of a fluorescent dye (e.g., indocyanine green), NIRF imaging can be helpful to improve the visualization of vital anatomical structures during MIS. Extra-hepatic bile ducts, arteries, ureters, sentinel lymph nodes, and lymph vessels have successfully been identified using NIRF imaging. A uniform approach regarding timing and route of dye administration has not yet been established. Optimization of both imaging systems and fluorescent dyes is needed to improve current shortcomings. New preclinical dyes are considered for optimization of NIRF imaging. Future implementation of new intraoperative optical methods, such as NIRF, could significantly contribute to intraoperative anatomy navigation and facilitate critical decision-making in MIS. Further research (i.e., large multi-center randomized controlled trials) is needed to establish the true value of this innovative optical imaging technique in standard clinical practice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1069-1079
JournalWorld Journal of Surgery
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2015

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