Indocyanine green (ICG), a US Food and Drug Administration-approved fluorescent compound, has been on the medical stage for more than 60 years. Current uses include hepatic function evaluation before surgical procedure and fundus evaluation. The large safety margin and near-infrared fluorescent optical advantage of the drug have proved useful in several clinical trials of intraoperative systems for tumor removal. Several nanoparticle-sized formulations for thermal ablation and photodynamic therapy have also been evaluated in animal experiments. Studies have attempted to manipulate ICG as a reporter fluorophore with initial success. In this article, we reviewed ICG’s histological applications, chemical and physical properties, current clinical applications, ongoing clinical trials, and biomedical studies and prospects. We believe that ICG could be used with novel biotechnological techniques, such as fluorescent endoscopy and photoacoustic equipment, in a range of biomedical fields.

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