Staining intraoperative topical solutions with fluorescein: Enhancing the safety of sinus surgery

William C. Yao, Rachel M. Regone, Masayoshi Takashima

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Background: Oxymetazoline HCl 0.05%, 1:100,000 lidocaine with epinephrine (lido+epi), and 1:1000 epinephrine are all colorless solutions employed in sinus surgery. Because lido+epi is injected whereas others are not, care must be taken to label all solutions to avoid inadvertent injection of oxymetazoline or concentrated epinephrine because of life-threatening complications. Dyes have been used to color solutions for visual identification, but efficacy and cost have never been compared. We sought to determine the effectiveness of surgical marking pen (gentian violet) and fluorescein strips as coloring agents in mediums commonly used in sinus surgery. Methods: In this specialty techniques study, 4 liquid mediums (normal saline [NS], 0.05% oxymetazoline, 1:1,000 epinephrine, and lido+epi) and 2 coloring agents (fluorescein strip and surgical marking pen) were combined separately. Photos and absorbance of each solution were obtained at 15-minute intervals over 2 hours using a spectrophotometer. Results: Peak absorbance remained stable for all solutions with fluorescein. Absorbance also remained constant for NS (0.37 absorbance units [AU] → 0.37 AU) and oxymetazoline (2.8 AU → 2.8 AU) mixed with marking pen. Absorbance decreased over 2 hours when marking pen was mixed with 1:1000 epinephrine (0.82 AU → 0.32 AU) and lido+epi (1.19 AU → 0.33 AU). Furthermore, the majority of color visibility and absorbance decreased in the first 15 minutes for concentrated epinephrine (0.82 → 0.33) and lido+epi (1.19 → 0.51). Cost of fluorescein strips ($0.14 to $0.20/strip) was less than marking pens ($13 to 46/pen). Conclusion: Compared to marking pen dye, solutions dyed with fluorescein retained their color and did not decay over time. We recommend fluorescein strips to label colorless materials in the operating room because of their lack of color decay and cost advantages.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)870-874
Number of pages5
JournalInternational Forum of Allergy and Rhinology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2015


  • Endoscopic sinus surgery
  • Intraoperative sinus solutions
  • Postoperative
  • Safety
  • Sinus surgery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Otorhinolaryngology


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