Real-time near-infrared fluorescence guided surgery in gynecologic oncology: a review of the current state of the art

Gynecol Oncol. 2014 Dec;135(3):606-13. doi: 10.1016/j.ygyno.2014.08.005. Epub 2014 Aug 11.


Near-infrared (NIR) fluorescence imaging has emerged as a promising complimentary technique for intraoperative visualization of tumor tissue, lymph nodes and vital structures. In this review, the current applications and future opportunities of NIR fluorescence imaging in gynecologic oncology are summarized. Several studies indicate that intraoperative sentinel lymph node identification in vulvar cancer using NIR fluorescence imaging outperforms blue dye staining and provides real-time intraoperative imaging of sentinel lymph nodes. NIR fluorescence imaging can penetrate through several millimeters of tissue, revealing structures just below the tissue surface. Hereby, iatrogenic damage to vital structures, such as the ureter or nerves may be avoided by identification using NIR fluorescence imaging. Tumor-targeted probes are currently being developed and have the potential to improve surgical outcomes of cytoreductive and staging procedures, in particular in ovarian cancer. Research in the near future will be necessary to determine whether this technology has additional value in order to facilitate the surgical procedure, reduce morbidity and improve disease-free and overall survival.

Keywords: Cervical neoplasms; Endometrial neoplasms; Near-infrared fluorescence imaging; Ovarian neoplasms; Sentinel lymph node biopsy; Vulvar neoplasms.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Fluorescence
  • Genital Neoplasms, Female / pathology*
  • Genital Neoplasms, Female / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Image Enhancement / methods
  • Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy / methods*