Indocyanine green (ICG) is a water-soluble fluorescent dye that is minimally toxic and widely used in gastrointestinal surgery. ICG facilitates anatomical identification of structures (e.g., ureters), assessment of lymph nodes, biliary mapping, organ perfusion and anastomosis assessment, and aids in determining the adequacy of oncological margins.

In addition, ICG can be conjugated to artificially created antibodies for tumour markers, such as carcinoembryonic antigen for colorectal, breast, lung, and gastric cancer, prostate-specific antigen for prostate cancer, and cancer antigen 125 for ovarian cancer.

Although ICG has shown promising results, the optimization of patient factors, dye factors, equipment, and the method of assessing fluorescence intensity could further enhance its utility. This review summarizes the clinical application of ICG in gastrointestinal surgery and discusses the emergence of novel dyes such as ZW-800 and VM678 that have demonstrated appropriate pharmacokinetic properties and improved target-to-background ratios in animal studies. With the emergence of robotic technology and the increasing reporting of ICG utility, a comprehensive review of clinical application of ICG in gastrointestinal surgery is timely and this review serves that aim.

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