Intraoperative surveillance of the vertebral artery using indocyanine green angiography and Doppler sonography in craniovertebral junction surgeries

Neurosurg Focus 50 (1):E5, 2021

The authors sought to evaluate the usefulness of indocyanine green (ICG) angiography and Doppler sonography for monitoring the vertebral artery (VA) during craniovertebral junction (CVJ) surgery and compare the incidence of VA injury (VAI) between the groups with and without the monitoring of VA using ICG angiography and Doppler sonography.

METHODS In total, 344 consecutive patients enrolled who underwent CVJ surgery. Surgery was performed without intraoperative VA monitoring tools in 262 cases (control group) and with VA monitoring tools in 82 cases (monitoring group). The authors compared the incidence of VAI between groups. The procedure times of ICG angiography, change of VA flow velocity measured by Doppler sonography, and complication were investigated.

RESULTS There were 4 VAI cases in the control group, and the incidence of VAI was 1.5%. Meanwhile, there were no VAI cases in the monitoring group. The procedure time of ICG angiography was less than 5 minutes (mean [± SD] 4.6 ± 2.1 minutes) and VA flow velocity was 11.2 ± 4.5 cm/sec. There were several cases in which the surgical method had to be changed depending on the VA monitoring. The combined use of ICG angiography and Doppler sonography was useful not only to monitor VA patency but also to assess the quality of blood flow during CVJ surgery, especially in the high-risk group of patients.

CONCLUSIONS The combined use of ICG angiography and Doppler sonography enables real-time intraoperative monitoring of the VA by detecting blood flow and flow velocity. As the arteries get closer, they provide auditory and visual feedback to the surgeon. This real-time image guidance could be a useful tool, especially for high-risk patients and inexperienced surgeons, to avoid iatrogenic VAI during any CVJ surgery.