Objective: Near-infrared fluorescence (NIRF) imaging using indocyanine green (ICG) might help reduce anastomotic leakage (AL) after colorectal surgery. This pilot study aims to analyze whether a relation exists between measured fluorescence intensity (FI) and postoperative inflammatory markers of AL, C-reactive protein (CRP), Intestinal fatty-acid binding protein (I-FABP), and calprotectin, to AL, in order to evaluate the potential of FI to objectively predict AL.
Methods: Patients scheduled for anastomotic colorectal cancer surgery were eligible for inclusion in this prospective pilot study. During surgery, at three time points (after bowel devascularization; before actual transection; after completion of anastomosis) a bolus of 0.2 mg/kg ICG was administered intravenously for assessment of bowel perfusion. FI was scored in scale from 1 to 5 based on the operating surgeon’s judgment (1 = no fluorescence visible, 5 = maximum fluorescent signal). The complete surgical procedure was digitally recorded. These recordings were used to measure FI postoperatively using OsiriX imaging software. Serum CRP, I-FABP, and calprotectin values were determined before surgery and on day 1, 3, and 5 postoperative; furthermore, the occurrence of AL was recorded.
Results: Thirty patients (n = 19 males; mean age 67 years; mean BMI 27.2) undergoing either laparoscopic or robotic anastomotic colorectal surgery were included. Indication for surgery was rectal-(n = 10), rectosigmoid-(n = 2), sigmoid-(n = 10), or more proximal colon carcinomas (n = 8). Five patients (16.7%) developed AL (n = 2 (6.6%) grade C according to the definition of the International Study group of Rectal Cancer). In patients with AL, the maximum fluorescence score was given less often (P = 0.02) and a lower FI compared to background FI was measured at 1st assessment (P = 0.039). However, no relation between FI and postoperative inflammatory parameters could be found.
Conclusion: Both subjective and measured FI seem to be related to AL. In this study, no relation between FI and inflammatory serum markers could yet be found.