Aim: Several papers have shown that use of indocyanine green (ICG) decreases incidence of anastomotic leakage (AL) during colonic surgery, but no clear evidence has been found for rectal cancer surgery. Therefore, with this systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) we aimed to assess if ICG could also reduce risk of AL in rectal cancer surgery.Method: PubMed, Scopus, CINAHL and Cochrane databases were searched for RCTs assessing the effect of intraoperative ICG on the incidence of AL of the colorectal anastomosis. Pooled relative risk (RR) and pooled risk difference (RD) were obtained using models with random effects. Risk of bias was evaluated with the Rob2 tool and the quality of evidence was assessed using the GRADE Pro tool.Results: Four RCTs were included for analysis, with a total of 1510 patients (743 controls and 767 ICG patients). The rate of AL was 9% in the ICG group (69/767) and 13.9% (103/743) in the control group (p = 0.003, RR -0.5, 95% CI -0.827 to -0.172, heterogeneity test 0%, p = 0.460). The RD in terms of incidence of AL was significantly decreased by 4.51% (p = 0.031, 95% CI -0.086 to -0.004, heterogeneity test 28%, p = 0.182) when using ICG.Conclusion: Our meta-analysis suggested that use of ICG during rectal cancer surgery could reduce the rate of AL.

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