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Ophthalmology. 2003 Jan;110(1):15-21; quiz 22-3.

Indocyanine green angiography in chorioretinal diseases: indications and interpretation: an evidence-based update.

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  • 1St. Paul's Eye Unit, The Royal Liverpool University Hospital, Liverpool, England, UK.


TOPIC/PURPOSE: To assess the clinical usefulness and relevance of indocyanine green angiography (ICG) in the investigation of chorioretinal disorders and assess specifically in what conditions it may add useful information to that obtained using standard fluorescein angiography.


Many publications on ICG have appeared in recent years touting its use in ophthalmology. These publications have led to increasing use of this technique and to its application in numerous retinal diseases in which the fluorescein angiographic findings have been thoroughly described.


During this systematic literature review, we identified and reviewed a total of 376 articles, from among which we selected 92 that we considered most relevant to our purpose of evaluating published evidence as to the efficacy of ICG. We excluded many articles with weak study designs and those that simply duplicated previously published information. Our literature search used PubMed and was confined to articles in English or that included an English abstract.


Our systematic review suggests that ICG has relatively few specific indications for use as justified by previously published peer-reviewed studies. In keeping with the requirements for this Journal's evidence-based articles, we have divided our clinical recommendations for the use of ICG into three categories: (A) strongly recommended and supported by strong evidence; (B) recommended with moderately strong supporting evidence; (C) not recommended at present because supported only by anecdotal or group consensus evidence. We highly recommended ICG for (1) identification of polypoidal choroidal vasculopathy, (2) occult choroidal neovascularization, (3) neovascularization associated with pigment epithelial detachments, and (4) recurrent choroidal neovascular membranes. These are all conditions in which ICG contributes to the identification of lesions that may be treatable. We recommend ICG with some enthusiasm for identifying feeder vessels in age-related macular degeneration, choroidal neovascular membranes, chronic central serous retinopathy, multiple evanescent white dot syndrome, vasculitis, acute multifocal placoid pigment epitheliopathy, Vogt-Koyanagi-Harada syndrome, macular lesions associated with angioid streaks, and birdshot retinopathy. In all these conditions, ICG may help establish a diagnosis and provide some useful guidance for therapy. At present, we do not recommend ICG for scleritis and posterior scleritis, drusen differentiation, Beh├žet's disease, or sarcoidosis, because it has not been demonstrated to add useful clinical information.


ICG, although now a well established technique, has clear advantage over fluorescein angiography in relatively few chorioretinal disorders. It has, however, contributed to the understanding of pathologic processes in many ocular diseases. As yet, no published randomized controlled clinical trials show any benefit to the use of ICG in the management of any specific ocular disease.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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