Visualization of the Extrahepatic biliaRy Tree Trial


This study is a prospective randomized controlled trial evaluating the use of a fluorescent dye, indocyanine green (ICG), in the identification of important bile duct anatomy during emergent same-admission cholecystectomy. Participants will be randomized into either the control arm, which uses the standard of care white light during laparoscopy or the intervention arm, which will use ICG fluorescent cholangiography as an adjunct to white light to visualize the biliary anatomy. The investigators hypothesize that the use of fluorescent cholangiography will increase the rates of identification of important biliary anatomy during laparoscopic cholecystectomy. The effectiveness, feasibility, and safety will be compared between the two groups using a post-operative survey form the surgeons will complete prior to exiting the operating room.

Full Title of Study: “Evaluate the Efficacy of ICG Fluorescent Cholangiography for Visualization of Extrahepatic Biliary Anatomy in Emergency Cholecystectomy: A Single-Center, Randomized, Controlled, Parallel-Group Study”

Study Type

  • Study Type: Interventional
  • Study Design
    • Allocation: Randomized
    • Intervention Model: Parallel Assignment
    • Primary Purpose: Treatment
    • Masking: Single (Participant)
  • Study Primary Completion Date: December 2022

Detailed Description

Near-infrared fluorescent imaging techniques have shown promise in aiding to delineate and visualize extrahepatic biliary structures. Indocyanine green (ICG) is a water-soluble fluorescent dye that has been shown to improve visualization of biliary anatomy under fluorescent cholangiography. The standard of care for many acute biliary disease conditions, such as acute cholecystitis, remains early laparoscopic cholecystectomy. Even though real-time fluorescent cholangiography using ICG has the potential to enhance the visualization of biliary structures and anatomy, and therefore reduce the risk for bile duct injury, the majority of the studies published to date exclude acute biliary disease patients. The pathophysiology of acute biliary disease processes is associated with inflammation and adhesions that increase the challenge of achieving a critical view of safety. The investigators propose that using ICG and fluorescent cholangiography near-infrared imaging techniques as an adjunct in acute care laparoscopic cholecystectomies has the potential to help mitigate the increased risk of bile duct injury by increasing extrahepatic biliary structure detection and surgeon confidence. Eligible patients will be identified through their initial clinical evaluation, which will be verified by the patient's primary surgeon. If and once a patient has been confirmed as eligible, the surgeon or designate will introduce the clinical trial design in detail. If after being introduced to the study and having had the opportunity to ask questions, the patient is willing to participate, the patient will be asked to review and sign the informed consent document. Upon entry into the clinical trial, the allocation sequence will be generated using a block randomization schema with computer-generated random numbers in a 1:1 ratio, with block sizes of 4 by a co-investigator with no clinical involvement in the trial. The same co-investigator will prepare sequentially numbered, opaque, sealed and stapled envelopes and stored them in a locked cabinet in the operating room control desk. Each envelope contained instructions for the arm the participant had been randomly assigned to, either treatment (ICG cholangiography) or control (standard white light only) arms. After the research team member has obtained the participant's consent, the surgeon or designates will obtain the next consecutively numbered envelope and proceed to open it after the patient is anesthetized and prior to beginning the surgery. The patient will be blinded to the result of the randomization until after surgery as the envelope will be opened only after the patient has received their general anesthetic. No blinding of the surgical team, research team members or outcomes assessors will be used in this study given the procedural nature and acute condition of the patients included.


  • Procedure: Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy with Fluorescent Cholangiography
    • Indocyanine green is a fluorophore molecule which is metabolized by the liver and excreted exclusively through the biliary system. Intra-operatively, near-infared imaging via the laparoscope will be used to visualize the biliary anatomy in the intervention arm, as an adjunct to standard of care white-light imaging.
  • Procedure: Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy with White Light Imaging
    • As per the current standard of care, patients undergoing laparoscopic cholecystectomies will have it completed using white light imaging through the laparoscope.

Arms, Groups and Cohorts

  • Experimental: Near-Infrared Fluorescence Cholangiography
    • Standard laparoscopic cholecystectomy completed with a combination of white light imaging and near-Infrared fluorescence cholangiography after administering 5 mg of a 25 mg/10 mL solution of indocyanine green (ICG) intravenously prior to the operation
  • Active Comparator: White Light Imaging
    • Standard laparoscopic cholecystectomy completed with only standard white light imaging only

Clinical Trial Outcome Measures

Primary Measures

  • Detection rate of extrahepatic biliary structures
    • Time Frame: Intraoperatively
    • The extrahepatic biliary structures which we will be assessing the identification of include: Cystic Duct (CD), Right Hepatic Duct (RHD), Common Hepatic Duct (CHD), Common Bile Duct (CBD), Cystic Duct – Gall Bladder junction (CD-GB), and Cystic Duct – Common Bile Duct junction (CD-CBD).

Secondary Measures

  • Operative success
    • Time Frame: Intraoperatively
    • Rates of laparoscopic subtotal cholecystectomy and laparoscopic cholecystostomy tube placement.
  • Rates of conversion
    • Time Frame: Intraoperatively
    • Rate of conversion to open cholecystectomy.
  • Operative time
    • Time Frame: Intraoperatively
    • From the time of opening the skin to the time of closure.
  • Surgeon satisfaction
    • Time Frame: Through participant discharge, an average of 1 week
    • Operating surgeons satisfaction (as rated by post-procedural survey) with the utility and feasibility of the modality.

Participating in This Clinical Trial

Inclusion Criteria

  • Admission or consultation by the Acute Care Surgery (ACS) service – Diagnosis of acute biliary disease requiring index laparoscopic cholecystectomy – Diagnoses of acute cholangitis, choledocholithiasis, and gall stone pancreatitis may be included. However, they must have cleared ducts confirmed via endoscopic ultrasound, ultrasound, ERCP, and/or laboratory investigations. – Ability to understand and follow study procedures and protocols, and provide signed informed consent. Exclusion Criteria:

  • Female patients who are pregnant or currently breastfeeding – Known pre-existing liver disease, including cirrhosis – Known allergy to iodine or shellfish – Known allergy to indocyanine green (ICG)

Gender Eligibility: All

Minimum Age: 18 Years

Maximum Age: N/A

Are Healthy Volunteers Accepted: No

Investigator Details

  • Lead Sponsor
    • University of British Columbia
  • Provider of Information About this Clinical Study
    • Principal Investigator: Philip Dawe, Clinical Assistant Professor – University of British Columbia
  • Overall Official(s)
    • Jean Philip Dawe, CD MD FRCSC, Principal Investigator, Clinical Assistant Professor
  • Overall Contact(s)
    • Karan J D’Souza, MD MPH MM, 6048755094,


Zroback C, Chow G, Meneghetti A, Warnock G, Meloche M, Chiu CJ, Panton ON. Fluorescent cholangiography in laparoscopic cholecystectomy: the initial Canadian experience. Am J Surg. 2016 May;211(5):933-7. doi: 10.1016/j.amjsurg.2016.01.013. Epub 2016 Feb 23.

Bleszynski MS, DeGirolamo KM, Meneghetti AT, Chiu CJ, Panton ON. Fluorescent Cholangiography in Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy: An Updated Canadian Experience. Surg Innov. 2020 Feb;27(1):38-43. doi: 10.1177/1553350619885792. Epub 2019 Nov 19.

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