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Near-infrared fluorescence lymph node template region dissection plus backup lymphadenectomy in open radical cystectomy for bladder cancer using an innovative handheld device: A single center experience.

BACKGROUND: The extent of pelvic lymphadenectomy (PLND) as part of radical cystectomy (RC) for bladder cancer (BC) remains unclear. Sentinel-based and lymphangiographic approaches could lead to reduced morbidity without sacrificing oncologic safety.

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the feasibility and diagnostic value of fluorescence-guided template sentinel region dissection (FTD) using a handheld near-infrared fluorescence (NIRF) camera in open radical cystectomy.

DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS: After peritumoral cystoscopic injection of indocyanine green (ICG) 21 patients underwent open RC with FTD due to BC between June 2019 and June 2021. Intraoperatively, the FIS-00 Hamamatsu Photonics® NIRF camera was used to identify and resect fluorescent template sentinel regions (FTRs) followed by extended pelvic lymphadenectomy (ePLND) as oncological back-up.

OUTCOME MEASUREMENT AND STATISTICAL ANALYSIS: Descriptive analysis of positive and negative results per template region.

RESULTS AND LIMITATIONS: FTRs were identified in all 21 cases. Median time (range) from ICG injection to fluorescence detection was 75 (55-125) minutes. On average (SD), 33.4 (9.6) lymph nodes were dissected per patient. Considering template regions as the basis of analysis, 67 (38.3%) of 175 resected regions were NIRF-positive, with 13 (7.4%) regions harboring lymph node metastases. We found no metastatic lymph nodes in NIRF-negative template regions. Outside the standard template, two NIRF-positive benign nodes were identified.

CONCLUSION: The concept of NIRF-guided FTD proved for this group all lymph node metastases to be found in NIRF-positive template regions. Pending validation in a larger collective, resection of approximately 40% of standard regions may be sufficient and may result in less morbidity.

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