Fluorescence imaging is increasingly being implemented in surgery. One of the drawbacks of its application is the need to switch back-and-forth between fluorescence- and white-light-imaging settings and not being able to dissect safely under fluorescence guidance. The aim of this study was to engineer ‘click-on’ fluorescence detectors that transform standard robotic instruments into molecular sensing devices that enable the surgeon to detect near-infrared (NIR) fluorescence in a white-light setting. This NIR-fluorescence detector setup was engineered to be press-fitted onto standard forceps instruments of the da Vinci robot. Following system characterization in a phantom setting (i.e., spectral properties, sensitivity and tissue signal attenuation), the performance with regard to different clinical indocyanine green (ICG) indications (e.g., angiography and lymphatic mapping) was determined via robotic surgery in pigs. To evaluate in-human applicability, the setup was also used for ICG-containing lymph node specimens from robotic prostate cancer surgery. The resulting Click-On device allowed for NIR ICG signal identification down to a concentration of 4.77 × 10 mg/ml. The fully assembled system could be introduced through the trocar and grasping, and movement abilities of the instrument were preserved. During surgery, the system allowed for the identification of blood vessels and assessment of vascularization (i.e., bowel, bladder and kidney), as well as localization of pelvic lymph nodes. During human specimen evaluation, it was able to distinguish sentinel from non-sentinel lymph nodes. With this introduction of a NIR-fluorescence Click-On sensing detector, a next step is made towards using surgical instruments in the characterization of molecular tissue aspects.
© 2022. The Author(s).