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BACKGROUND: Fluorescent imaging is an emerging technological tool that can guide surgeons during surgery by highlighting anatomical structures and pathology, and help with intraoperative decision making. METHODS: A comprehensive review of published literature was performed using the search terms "fluorescence", "imaging" and "colorectal surgery" in PubMed. Only clinical trials that were published in English were included in this review. Ex vivo and animal studies were excluded. RESULTS: This review demonstrates the use of fluorescence imaging in colorectal surgery in four areas: (1) assessment of tissue perfusion and vasculature; (2) assessment of tumour; (3) lymphatic drainage and (4) identification of the urinary tract. The most commonly used fluorescent dyes are nonspecific, such as indocyanine green and methylene blue, but there is increasing interest in the development of specific fluorescently labelled molecular markers. CONCLUSION: Fluorescence imaging is a potentially useful tool for colorectal surgery. Early studies on fluorescence imaging have been promising but larger scale randomised controlled trials are warranted to demonstrate the effectiveness and benefits of using fluorescence imaging routinely. The development of molecular dyes that are specific to targets could significantly increase the potential use of fluorescence imaging during surgery.

Original publication




Journal article


Surg Endosc

Publication Date



Colorectal Surgery, Fluorescence, Imaging