Introduction: Chylothorax (CT) is a rare yet serious complication after esophagectomy. Identification of the thoracic duct (TD) during esophagectomy is challenging due to its anatomical variation. Real-time identification of TD may help to prevent its injury. Near infra-red imaging with Indocyanine green (ICG) is a novel technique that recently has been used to overcome this issue.

Results: Eighteen patients received ICG, and 18 patients underwent surgery without ICG. Each group had one (5.5%) TD ligation. In the ICG group injury was detected intraoperative, and ligation was done at the site of injury. In all cases, the entire thoracic course of TD was visualized intraoperatively after a mean time of 81.39 min from ICG injection to visualization. The Mean extra time for ICG injection was 11.94 min. In the ICG group, no patient suffered from CT. One patient in the non-ICG group developed CT after surgery that was managed conservatively. According to Fisher’s exact test, there was no significant association between CT development and ICG use, possibly due to the small sample size.

Conclusions: This study confirms that ICG administration into bilateral superficial inguinal lymph nodes can highlight the TD and reduce its damage during esophagectomy. It can be a standard method for the prevention of postoperative CT.

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