Fluorescent cholangiography as effective as standard, but cheaper

Major finding: Fluorescent cholangiography identified 100% of relevant anatomy during laparoscopic cholecystectomy, while costing less than standard cholangiography ($14 vs. $778).

Data source: Prospective study of 45 patients.

Disclosures: Dr. Dip had no financial disclosures.



MIAMI BEACH – Intraoperative fluorescent cholangiography is just as effective as traditional cholangiography but costs hundreds of dollars less and is significantly faster to perform.

It’s also a great teaching tool, Dr. Fernando Dip said at the annual meeting of the Americas Hepato-Pancreato-Biliary Association. In just one session, all of the third- and fourth-year surgical residents were able to correctly identify 100% of the biliary structures.

Dr. Fernando Dip

"It appears to be an additional tool for the laparoscopic surgeon," said Dr. Dip, chief of surgical research at the Cleveland Clinic in Weston, Fla. "It’s quick, inexpensive, real-time, there are no adverse events, and it’s an inciscionless procedure."

Common bile duct injury is the most frequent injury seen in laparoscopic cholecystectomy, he said, and although the overall incidence is low, the number of injuries each year is not inconsiderable, since more than 750,000 laparoscopic cholecystectomies are performed in the United States annually.

"Only 3% of these injuries are due to problems with technical skill," Dr. Dip said. "The other 97% are problems of visual perception – illusions of where the ducts are."

Intraoperative cholangiography helps surgeons visualize this anatomy, but its true usefulness is somewhat controversial. Dr. Dip cited a recent study of almost 93,000 patients – 40% of whom underwent the procedure. It showed that intraoperative cholangiography is not effective as a preventive strategy against common duct injury during cholecystectomy.

Intraoperative fluorescent cholangiography is sometimes used to identify biliary anatomy in extrahepatic surgery. Dr. Dip and his colleagues examined its usefulness in 45 patients undergoing laparoscopic cholecystectomy. Senior residents performed all of the procedures under the supervision of experienced laparoscopic surgeons. All patients underwent the investigational procedure, followed by standard cholangiography.

The patients had a mean age of 49 years and were evenly split between men and women. The mean body mass index was 28 kg/m2. Surgical indications were cholelithiasis (22), acute cholecystitis (17), chronic cholecystitis (5), and polyp (1). About 1 hour before surgery, patients received an infusion of indocyanine green 0.5 mg/kg. During the laparoscopic exploration, surgeons used near-infrared light to make the marker fluoresce as it was excreted by the liver.

In a picture review before surgery, all residents correctly identified 100% of the anatomic structures visualized by the fluorescent procedure. They were able to complete the fluorescent procedure in all of the patients. The completion rate for cholangiography was 93% (42 patients). In three patients, cholangiography failed because the cystic duct could not be cannulated.

The residents identified the cystic duct in 44 of the patients (98%), the common bile duct in 36 (80%), and the common hepatic ducts in 27 (60%). Neither technique identified any aberrant or accessory ducts.

Because fluorescent cholangiography is a real-time surgical procedure, it allowed checking of the transection and resection of the gallbladder pedicle before smooth dissection in all of the patients.

The procedure was significantly quicker than standard cholangiography (0.71 minutes vs. 7.15 minutes). It was also significantly cheaper, costing a mean of $14 vs. $778. There were no adverse surgical events, and no adverse reactions to the dye or at the infusion site, Dr. Dip said. Additionally, he noted, fluorescent cholangiography does not rely on x-rays, and so spared the patients any radiation exposure.

He added that the Cleveland Clinic, in conjunction with the University of Tokyo, will soon launch a randomized clinical trial comparing the two methods. An ongoing trial from another institution is evaluating fluorescent cholangiography compared with critical view technique in visualizing anatomy during laparoscopic cholecystectomy. It was set to wrap up in January, but according to the trial record on, is still recruiting patients.

Dr. Dip had no financial disclosures.

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