Use of methylene blue and near-infrared fluorescence

Use of methylene blue and near-infrared fluorescence in thyroid and parathyroid surgery
Hillary SL -  Langenbecks Arch Surg. 2017 Dec 11. doi: 10.1007/s00423-017-1641-2.
Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, c/o Room F25, Royal Hallamshire Hospital, Glossop Road, Sheffield, South Yorkshire, S10 2JF, UK
Intraoperative localisation and preservation of parathyroid glands improves outcomes following thyroid and parathyroid surgery. This can be facilitated by fluorescent imaging and methylene blue; a fluorophore is thought to be taken up avidly by parathyroid glands. This preliminary study aims to identify the optimum dose of methylene blue (MB), fluorescent patterns of thyroid and parathyroid glands and develop a protocol for the use of intravenous MB emitted fluorescence to enable parathyroid identification.

This is a phase 1b, interventional study (NCT02089542) involving 41 patients undergoing thyroid and/or parathyroid surgery. After exposure of the thyroid and/or parathyroid gland(s), intravenous boluses of between 0.05 and 0.5 mg/kg of MB were injected. Fluobeam® (a hand held fluorescence real-time imager) was used to record fluorescence from the operating field prior and up to 10 min following administration.

The optimum dose of MB to visualise thyroid and parathyroid glands was 0.4 mg/kg body weight. The median time to onset of fluorescence was 23 and 22 s and the median time to peak fluorescence was 41.5 and 40 s, respectively. The peak fluorescence for thyroid and parathyroid glands compared to muscle were 2.6 and 4.3, respectively. Parathyroid auto-fluorescence prior to methylene blue injection was commonly observed.

A clinical protocol for detection of fluorescence from MB during thyroid and parathyroid surgery is presented. Parathyroids (especially enlarged glands) fluoresce more intensely than thyroid glands. Auto-fluorescence may aid parathyroid detection, but MB fluorescence is needed to demonstrate viability.