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Does Intraoperative Indocyanine Green Fluorescence Angiography Decrease the Incidence of Anastomotic Leakage in Colorectal Surgery? A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis



Colorectal anastomoses in patients with colorectal cancer carry a high risk of leakage. Indocyanine green fluorescence angiography (ICG-FA) is a new technique that allows surgeons to assess the blood perfusion of the anastomosis during operation. This meta-analysis aimed to evaluate whether ICG-FA could prevent anastomotic leakage (AL) in colorectal surgery.


Four databases (PubMed, Embase, Web of Science, and Cochrane Library) were searched to identify suitable literatures until March 2020 that compared AL rates between intraoperative use and non-use of ICG-FA in colorectal surgery for cancer. The Review Manager 5.3 software was used to perform the statistical analysis. Evaluation of articles quality and analysis for publication bias were also conducted.


Thirteen studies of 4037 patients were included in the meta-analysis. The study included 1806 patients in the ICG group and 2231 patients in the control group. The pooled incidence of AL in ICG group was 3.8% compared with 7.8% in control group. There was a significant difference in AL rate with or without use of ICG-FA (OR 0.44; 95% CI 0.33–0.59; P < 0.00001). Reoperation rates were 2.6% and 6.9% in ICG and control groups, respectively. Application of intraoperative ICG-FA was associated with a lower risk of reoperation (OR 0.39; 95% CI 0.16–0.94; P = 0.04). Overall complication rate was 15.6% in the ICG group compared with 21.2% in the control group. Overall complications were significantly reduced when using ICG-FA (OR 0.62; 95% CI 0.47–0.82; P = 0.0008). Mortality rate was not statistically different with or without the use of ICG-FA (OR 1.22; 95% CI 0.20–7.30; P = 0.83).


The results revealed that ICG-FA reduced risks of AL, reoperation, and overall complications for colorectal cancer patients undergoing colorectal surgery. Well-designed RCTs are needed to confirm the usefulness of intraoperative ICG-FA for preventing surgical complications like AL and reoperation.

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