Background: Near-infrared (NIR) imaging using the second time window of indocyanine green (ICG) allows localization of pulmonary, pleural, and mediastinal malignancies during surgery. Based on empirical evidence, we hypothesized that different histologic tumor types fluoresce optimally at different ICG doses. Study Design: Patients with thoracic tumors biopsy-proven or suspicious for malignancy were enrolled in an NIR imaging clinical trial. Patients received a range of ICG doses 1 day before surgery: 1 mg/kg (n = 8), 2 mg/kg (n = 8), 3 mg/kg (n = 13), 4 mg/kg (n = 8), and 5 mg/kg (n = 8). Intraoperatively, NIR imaging was performed. The endpoint was to identify the highest tumor-to-background fluorescence ratio (TBR) for each tumor type at each dose. Final pathology confirmed tumor histology. Results: Of 45 patients, 41 had malignancies (18 non-small cell lung cancers [NSCLC], 3 pulmonary neuroendocrine tumors, 13 thoracic metastases, 4 thymomas, 3 mesotheliomas). At doses of 4 to 5 mg/kg, the TBR from primary NSCLC vs other malignancies was no different (2.70 vs 3.21, p = 1.00). At doses of 1 to 3 mg/kg, the TBR was greater for the NSCLCs (3.19 vs 1.49, p = 0.0006). Background fluorescence from the heart or ribs was observed in 1 of 16 cases at 1 to 2 mg/kg, 5 of 13 cases at 3 mg/kg, and 14 of 16 cases at 4 to 5 mg/kg; this was a major determinant of dose optimization. Conclusions: This is the first study to demonstrate that the optimal NIR contrast agent dose varies by tumor histology. Lower dose ICG (2 to 3 mg/kg) is superior for nonprimary lung cancers, and high dose ICG (4 to 5 mg/kg) is superior for lung cancers. This will have major implications as more intraoperative imaging trials surface in other specialties, will significantly reduce costs and may facilitate wider application.
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