Anastomotic leak (AL) after colorectal surgery is a devastating complication; decreased blood perfusion is an important risk factor. Surgeons rely on subjective measures to assess bowel perfusion. Fluorescence imaging (FI) with indocyanine green (ICG) provides a real-time objective assessment of intestinal perfusion. Areas covered: A PubMed search using the terms 'fluorescence imaging', 'indocyanine green', 'colon and rectal surgery' was undertaken. Sixteen articles between 2010 to present were identified. Main outcomes were leak rate reduction, change in surgical plan, and technical feasibility. Change in surgical strategy due to FI was recorded in 11 studies. Two case control studies showed overall reduction of 4% and 12% in AL rate and one showed no change in AL rate between groups. Expert commentary: According to the available literature, FI is technically feasible and alters surgical strategy in a non-negligible number of patients possibly effecting AL rates.
Keywords: Fluorescence imaging; anastomotic leak; colon surgery; indocyanine green; rectal surgery.