Fluorescein-guided surgery for malignant gliomas: a review

Neurosurg Rev. 2014 Oct;37(4):547-57. doi: 10.1007/s10143-014-0546-6. Epub 2014 Apr 23.


Fluorescein is widely used as a fluorescent tracer for many applications. Its capacity to accumulate in cerebral areas where there has been blood-brain barrier damage makes it particularly suitable as a dye for the intraoperative visualization of malignant gliomas (MGs). In this report, we describe the results of a comprehensive review on the use of fluorescein in the surgical treatment of MGs. A comprehensive literature search and review for English-written articles concerning the use of fluorescein in the resection of MGs has been conducted. The search was executed through a PubMed literature search using the following keywords: malignant gliomas, glioblastomas, high-grade gliomas, YELLOW 560, total removal, dedicated filter, neurosurgery, brain tumors, intracranial tumors, and confocal microscopy. The literature search resulted in the retrieval of 412 evidence-based articles. Of these, 17 were found to be strictly related to the resection of MG with the aid of fluorescein. In addition to these 17, we have included 2 articles derived from a personal database of the corresponding author (FA). The analysis of the articles reviewed revealed three major applications of fluorescein during surgery for MGs that was documented: Fluorescein-guided resection of MGs with white-light illumination, fluorescein-guided resection of MGs with a surgical microscope equipped with a dedicated filter for fluorescein, and confocal microscopy for intraoperative histopathological analysis on MGs. The systemic review conducted on the use of fluorescein in MGs explored the applications and the different modalities in which fluorescein has been used. The data we have gathered indicates that fluorescein-guided surgery is a safe, effective, and convenient technique to achieve a high rate of total removal in MGs. Further prospective comparative trials, however, are still necessary to prove the impact of fluorescein-guided surgery on both progression-free survival and overall survival.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Contrast Media
  • Fluorescein*
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Glioma / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Microscopy, Confocal
  • Neurosurgical Procedures / methods*
  • Surgery, Computer-Assisted / methods*


  • Contrast Media
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Fluorescein