Objectives Surgical excision is the standard strategy for managing liver metastases from colorectal carcinoma. The achievement of negative (R0) margins is a major determinant of disease-free survival in these patients. Current imaging techniques are of limited value in achieving this goal. A new approach to the intraoperative detection of colorectal liver metastatic tissue based on the emission of indocyanine green (ICG) fluorescence was evaluated. Methods A total of 25 consecutive patients with liver metastases from primary colorectal cancers who were eligible for liver resection received a bolus of ICG (0.5 mg/kg body weight) 24 h before surgery. During surgery, ICG fluorescence, which accumulates around lesions as a result of defective biliary clearance, was detected with a near-infrared camera system, the Photodynamic Eye (PDE). Numbers of lesions detected by, respectively, PDE + ICG, intraoperative ultrasound (IOUS) and preoperative computed tomography (CT) were recorded. Results The near-infrared camera plus ICG revealed a total of 77 metastatic liver nodules. Preoperative CT demonstrated 45 (58.4%) and IOUS showed 55 (71.4%). Preoperative CT and IOUS alone were inferior to the combined use of PDE + ICG and IOUS in the detection of lesions of ≤3 mm in size. Conclusions This experience suggests that PDE + ICG, combined with IOUS, may represent a safe and effective tool for ensuring the complete surgical eradication of liver metastases from colorectal cancer.
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