Background: Identification of the lymphatic system in cadavers is painstaking because lymphatic vessels have very thin walls and are transparent. Selection of appropriate contrast agents is a key factor for successfully visualizing the lymphatics. In this study, the authors introduce a new imaging technique of lymphatic mapping in the whole bodies of fresh cadavers. Methods: Ten fresh human cadavers were used for this study. The authors injected 0.1 ml of indocyanine green fluorescence solution subcutaneously at multiple spots along the watershed lines between lymphatic territories and hand and foot regions. After the body was scanned by the near-infrared camera system, fluorescent tissues were harvested and histologic examination was performed under the microscope equipped with the infrared camera system to confirm that they were the lymphatics. Results: Subcutaneously injected indocyanine green was immediately transported into the lymphatic vessels after gentle massage on the injection points. Sweeping massage along the lymphatic vessels facilitated indocyanine green transport inside the lymphatic vessel to move toward the lymph nodes. The lymphatic system was visualized well in the whole body. Histologic examinations confirmed that indocyanine green was detected in the lymphatic lumens specifically, even when located far from the injected points. Conclusions: The lymphatic system could be visualized in whole-body fresh cadavers, as in living bodies, using indocyanine green fluorescence lymphography. Compatibility of indocyanine green lymphography would facilitate the use of cadaveric specimens for macroscopic and microscopic analyses.
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