Indocyanine green-assisted peeling of the retinal internal limiting membrane

Ophthalmology. 2000 Nov;107(11):2010-4. doi: 10.1016/s0161-6420(00)00375-4.


Objective: To determine whether indocyanine green (ICG) stains and facilitates peeling of the retinal internal limiting membrane (ILM). To investigate the different staining properties of the posterior cortical hyaloid, retinal ILM, and the retina after ILM removal.

Design: Autopsy eye study.

Materials: Eleven human cadaveric eyes.

Methods: Open sky vitrectomy including removal of the posterior cortical vitreous was performed. A 0.5% ICG solution was then injected into the posterior vitreous cavity over the macula. The dye was allowed to settle on the macula for 5 minutes and was then removed by mechanical aspiration. Peeling of the ILM was initiated with a bent needle and completed with intraocular forceps. Specimens were submitted for light and electron microscopy.

Main outcome measures: Staining properties and ease of peeling of retinal ILM were evaluated. Retinal ILM removal was confirmed by histopathologic and electron microscopic examination.

Results: ICG contact with the retinal surface resulted in bright green staining of the ILM. This stain greatly facilitated ILM peeling by improving direct visualization of the membrane. The underlying retina did not stain, thus providing a clear distinction between the stained ILM and the unstained retina. Continuous circular peeling of the ILM was easily completed with this technique. Light microscopic and ultrastructural studies confirmed removal of the ILM.

Conclusions: ICG solution distinctly stains the nearly invisible retinal ILM in human cadaveric eyes. ICG staining greatly facilitates ILM peeling by providing a stark contrast between the stained ILM and the unstained retina.

MeSH terms

  • Basement Membrane / surgery
  • Basement Membrane / ultrastructure
  • Coloring Agents*
  • Diagnostic Techniques, Ophthalmological*
  • Epiretinal Membrane / diagnosis*
  • Epiretinal Membrane / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Indocyanine Green*
  • Staining and Labeling / methods*


  • Coloring Agents
  • Indocyanine Green