Near-infrared fluorescent cholangiography facilitates identification of biliary anatomy during laparoscopic cholecystectomy

Surg Endosc. 2015 Feb;29(2):368-75. doi: 10.1007/s00464-014-3677-5. Epub 2014 Jul 2.


Background: Intraoperative cholangiography (IOC) is the current gold standard for biliary imaging during laparoscopic cholecystectomy (LC). However, utilization of IOC remains low. Near-infrared fluorescence cholangiography (NIRF-C) is a novel, noninvasive method for real-time, intraoperative biliary mapping. Our aims were to assess the safety and efficacy of NIRF-C for identification of biliary anatomy during LC.

Methods: Patients were administered indocyanine green (ICG) prior to surgery. NIRF-C was used to identify extrahepatic biliary structures before and after partial and complete dissection of Calot's triangle. Routine IOC was performed in each case. Identification of biliary structures using NIRF-C and IOC, and time required to complete each procedure were collected.

Results: Eighty-two patients underwent elective LC with NIRF-C and IOC. Mean age and body mass index (BMI) were 42.6 ± 13.7 years and 31.5 ± 8.2 kg/m(2), respectively. ICG was administered 73.8 ± 26.4 min prior to incision. NIRF-C was significantly faster than IOC (1.9 ± 1.7 vs. 11.8 ± 5.3 min, p < 0.001). IOC was unobtainable in 20 (24.4 %) patients while NIRF-C did not visualize biliary structures in 4 (4.9 %) patients. After complete dissection, the rates of visualization of the cystic duct, common bile duct, and common hepatic duct using NIRF-C were 95.1, 76.8, and 69.5 %, respectively, compared to 72.0, 75.6, and 74.3 % for IOC. In 20 patients where IOC could not be obtained, NIRF-C successfully identified biliary structures in 80 % of the cases. Higher BMI was not a deterrent to visualization of anatomy with NIRF-C. No adverse events were observed with NIRF-C.

Conclusions: NIRF-C is a safe and effective alternative to IOC for imaging extrahepatic biliary structures during LC. This technique should be evaluated further under a variety of acute and chronic gallbladder inflammatory conditions to determine its usefulness in biliary ductal identification.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bile Ducts, Extrahepatic / diagnostic imaging*
  • Cholangiography / methods
  • Cholecystectomy, Laparoscopic* / methods
  • Coloring Agents
  • Common Bile Duct / diagnostic imaging
  • Cystic Duct / diagnostic imaging
  • Diagnostic Imaging
  • Female
  • Hepatic Duct, Common / diagnostic imaging
  • Humans
  • Indocyanine Green
  • Intraoperative Period
  • Male
  • Middle Aged


  • Coloring Agents
  • Indocyanine Green