The impact of fluorescence angiography on anastomotic leak rate following transanal total mesorectal excision for rectal cancer: a comparative study



Anastomotic leak (AL) is the most feared complication in colorectal surgery. Indocyanine green (ICG) fluorescence angiography allows for real-time intraoperative evaluation of bowel perfusion. This study aimed to assess the impact of ICG on perioperative outcomes in patients treated with transanal total mesorectal excision (TaTME) for rectal cancer.


Comparative study based on a retrospective analysis of prospectively collected data, to validate the use of ICG assessment (ICGA) during TaTME (November/2011–June/2018). The primary outcome was the clinical AL rate. The secondary outcomes included modification of proximal colonic transection, anastomotic redo, additional surgical maneuvers and surgical morbidity.


Two hundred and eighty-four patients were included, 204 (71.8%) in non-ICG group and 80 (28.2%) in ICG group. No significant differences were found in patient and tumor features. Mean anastomotic height was 4.85 cm vs. 5.04 cm (p = 0.500), diverting stoma was constructed in 205 patients (72.1% vs. 72.5%; p = 0.941). Fluorescence angiography modified the surgical plan in 23 patients (28.7%). AL was diagnosed in 23 patients (11.3%) in the non-ICG group and in two patients (2.5%) in the ICG group (p = 0.020). Postoperative intraabdominal collection was diagnosed in 19 patients (7.4% vs. 5.1%; p = 0.490), and reintervention was needed in 24 patients (10.8% vs. 7.6%; p = 0.420). Median length of hospital stay was 6.0 (IQR 5.0–9) vs. 4.0 (IQR 3.0–8.5) (p = 0.005). ICGA was found as independent protective factor for AL in the multivariate analysis of the whole cohort (n = 284) (OR 0.142; 95% CI 0.032–0.633; p = 0.010).


ICG fluorescence angiography modified the proximal colonic transection in more than one-quarter of patients, leading to a significant decrease of AL rate.

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Correspondence to A. M. Lacy.

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Dr. Antonio M. Lacy is a consultant for Medtronic, Conmed Corporation, Olympus Medical, Touchstone International Medical Science Co. Ltd., Applied Medical, and Johnson & Johnson. Drs. Otero-Piñeiro AM, de Lacy FB, Van Laarhoven JJ, Martín-Perez B, Valverde S, Bravo R has no conflicts of interest or financial ties to disclose.

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Otero-Piñeiro, A.M., de Lacy, F.B., Van Laarhoven, J.J. et al. The impact of fluorescence angiography on anastomotic leak rate following transanal total mesorectal excision for rectal cancer: a comparative study. Surg Endosc 35, 754–762 (2021).

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  • ICG
  • Colorectal surgery
  • TaTME
  • Rectal cancer
  • Anastomotic leak
  • New technologies