Correspondence  |   May 2004
Safety of Indocyanine Green as a Vital Stain
Author Notes
  • The Rayne Institute, St. Thomas’ Hospital, London, United Kingdom.
Article Information
Correspondence   |   May 2004
Safety of Indocyanine Green as a Vital Stain
Anesthesiology 5 2004, Vol.100, 1330. doi:
Anesthesiology 5 2004, Vol.100, 1330. doi:
To the Editor:—  Indocyanine green (ICG) has been identified as a potential alternative to epinephrine as a means of detecting inadvertent intravascular injection of local anesthetic during epidural anesthesia. Dietz and Jaffe 1 have shown apparent neurotoxicity with this agent and cautioned against its use. They noted that neurotoxicity had not been reported previously. However, there are a series of reports of possible retinal neurotoxicity that may support the authors’ claim. ICG is commonly used as an intraoperative vital stain to identify and remove the internal limiting membrane during macular surgery. 2 Concerns have been expressed regarding its safety. 3 Some experimental reports have shown ICG mediated neororetinal 4 and retinal pigment epithelial cell damage. 5 There are also clinical studies showing functional visual loss after ICG-assisted macular surgery. 6 ICG is usually mixed in distilled water and then saline, resulting in a hypoosmolar solution. Some reports suggest that it is the combined exposure to low osmolarity and ICG that produces cell damage. 7 Authors have suggested alternative means of preparing ICG, and other agents, such as infracyanine green and trypan blue, have been advocated. 8 Other vital stains, such as sodium fluorescein, are widely available and well tested. Many of these and other related articles may be of interest to readers concerned about the safety of ICG.
The Rayne Institute, St. Thomas’ Hospital, London, United Kingdom.
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Stalmans P, Van Aken EH, Veckeneer M, Feron EJ, Stalmans I: Toxic effect of indocyanine green on retinal pigment epithelium related to osmotic effects of the solvent. Am J Ophthalmol 2002; 134:282–5
Stalmans P, Feron EJ, Parys-Van Ginderdeuren R, Van Lommel A, Melles GR, Veckeneer M: Double vital staining using trypan blue and infracyanine green in macular pucker surgery. Br J Ophthalmol 2003; 87:713–6