Efficacy of indocyanine green fluorescence for the identification of non-palpable breast tumours: systematic review

Britt A M Jansen, Claudia A Bargon, Anne E Huibers, Emily L Postma, Danny A Young-Afat, Helena M Verkooijen, Annemiek Doeksen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

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BACKGROUND: Accurate tumour localization is crucial for precise surgical targeting and complete tumour removal. Indocyanine green fluorescence, an increasingly used technique in oncological surgery, has shown promise in localizing non-palpable breast tumours. The aim of this systematic review was to describe the efficacy of indocyanine green fluorescence for the identification of non-palpable breast tumours.

METHODS: A systematic literature search was performed in PubMed, Embase, and the Cochrane Library, including studies from 2012 to 2023. Studies reporting the proportion of breast tumours identified using indocyanine green fluorescence were included. The quality of the studies and their risk of bias were appraised using the Methodological Index for Non-Randomized Studies ('MINORS') tool. The following outcomes were collected: identification rate, clear resection margins, specimen volume, operative time, re-operation rate, adverse events, and complications.

RESULTS: In total, 2061 articles were screened for eligibility, resulting in 11 studies, with 366 patients included: two RCTs, three non-randomized comparative studies, four single-arm studies, and two case reports. All studies achieved a 100 per cent tumour identification rate with indocyanine green fluorescence, except for one study, with an identification rate of 87 per cent (13/15). Clear resection margins were found in 88-100 per cent of all patients. Reoperation rates ranged from 0.0 to 5.4 per cent and no complications or adverse events related to indocyanine green occurred.

CONCLUSION: Indocyanine green fluorescence has substantial theoretical advantages compared with current routine localization methods. Although a limited number of studies were available, the current literature suggests that indocyanine green fluorescence is a useful, accurate, and safe technique for the intraoperative localization of non-palpable breast tumours, with equivalent efficacy compared with other localization techniques, potentially reducing tumour-positive margins.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberzrad092
Number of pages9
JournalBJS open
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2023


  • Breast Neoplasms/diagnostic imaging
  • Female
  • Fluorescence
  • Humans
  • Indocyanine Green
  • Margins of Excision
  • Operative Time


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