Applying indocyanine green (ICG) fluorescence in surgery has created a new dimension of navigation surgery to advance in various disciplines. The research in this field is nascent and fragmented, necessitating academic efforts to gain a comprehensive understanding. The present review aims to integrate diverse perspectives and recent advances in its application in gastrointestinal surgery. The relevant articles were selected by using the appropriate keyword search in PubMed.

The angiography and cholangiography property of ICG fluorescence is helpful in various hepatobiliary disorders. In gastroesophageal and colorectal surgery, the lymphangiography and angiography property of ICG is applied to evaluate bowel vascularity and guide lymphadenectomy. The lack of objective parameters to assess ICG fluorescence has been the primary limitation when ICG is used to evaluate bowel perfusion. The optimum dose and timing of ICG administration need to be standardized in some new application areas in gastrointestinal surgery. Binding tumor-specific ligands with fluorophores can potentially widen the fluorescence application to detect primary and metastatic gastrointestinal tumors.

The narrative review outlines prior contributions, limitations, and research opportunities for future studies across gastrointestinal sub-specialty. The findings of the present review would be helpful for scholars and practitioners to explore and progress in this exciting domain of gastrointestinal surgery.

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