OBJECTIVE To evaluate the usefulness of injection of indocyanine green (ICG) solution with near-infrared (NIR) fluorescence imaging for transcutaneous detection of sentinel lymph nodes (SLNs) and their associated lymphatic vessels in the oral mucosa of healthy dogs.
ANIMALS 6 adult purpose-bred research hounds.
PROCEDURES Each dog was sedated, and 1 mL of ICG solution was injected into the gingival mucosa dorsal to the right maxillary canine tooth. Subsequently, NIR fluorescence imaging was used to transcutaneously detect the lymphatic vessels and SLNs. The distance between the injection site and each SLN was measured. Time to first evidence of node fluorescence was recorded, and velocity of ICG movement was calculated. A slide preparation of a fine-needle aspiration sample of the fluorescing structure underwent cytologic examination (to confirm presence of lymphatic tissue) and NIR fluorescence imaging (to confirm presence of ICG).
RESULTS The ipsilateral mandibular lymphocentrum was the SLN in all dogs. The time to visually detectable fluorescence ranged from 4 to 15 minutes (mean ± SD, 8.8 ± 3.76 minutes). The mean velocity was 1.94 ± 0.93 cm/min. Fluorescence was not observed in the contralateral lymph nodes. Each fluorescing structure was confirmed to be lymphatic tissue, and NIR fluorescence imaging revealed that ICG was present in the sampled SLN.
CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE Results indicated that injection of ICG solution with NIR fluorescence imaging can be used to transcutaneously identify SLNs along with associated lymphatic vessels in the oral mucosa of healthy dogs. Time from injection to identification of fluorescence was rapid with prolonged retention of material within the SLN, indicating that this procedure could be performed during surgery.