Background: Indocyanine green near-infrared fluorescence bowel perfusion assessment has shown its potential benefit in preventing anastomotic leakage. However, the surgeon’s subjective visual interpretation of the fluorescence signal limits the validity and reproducibility of the technique. Therefore, this study aimed to identify objective quantified bowel perfusion patterns in patients undergoing colorectal surgery using a standardized imaging protocol.

Method: A standardized fluorescence video was recorded. Postoperatively, the fluorescence videos were quantified by drawing contiguous region of interests (ROIs) on the bowel. For each ROI, a time-intensity curve was plotted from which perfusion parameters (n = 10) were derived and analyzed. Furthermore, the inter-observer agreement of the surgeon’s subjective interpretation of the fluorescence signal was assessed.

Results: Twenty patients who underwent colorectal surgery were included in the study. Based on the quantified time-intensity curves, three different perfusion patterns were identified. Similar for both the ileum and colon, perfusion pattern 1 had a steep inflow that reached its peak fluorescence intensity rapidly, followed by a steep outflow. Perfusion pattern 2 had a relatively flat outflow slope immediately followed by its plateau phase. Perfusion pattern 3 only reached its peak fluorescence intensity after 3 min with a slow inflow gradient preceding it. The inter-observer agreement was poor-moderate (Intraclass Correlation Coefficient (ICC): 0.378, 95% CI 0.210-0.579).

Conclusion: This study showed that quantification of bowel perfusion is a feasible method to differentiate between different perfusion patterns. In addition, the poor-moderate inter-observer agreement of the subjective interpretation of the fluorescence signal between surgeons emphasizes the need for objective quantification.

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