The Use of 5-Aminolevulinic Acid in Low-Grade Glioma Resection: A Systematic Review

Ahmad Kareem Almekkawi, Tarek Y. El Ahmadieh*, Eva M. Wu, Abdullah M. Abunimer, Karl R. Abi-Aad, Salah G. Aoun, Aaron R. Plitt, Najib E. El Tecle, Toral Patel, Walter Stummer, Bernard R. Bendok

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: For optimizing high-grade glioma resection, 5-aminolevulinic acid is a reliable tool. However, its efficacy in low-grade glioma resection remains unclear. OBJECTIVE: To study the role of 5-aminolevulinic acid in low-grade glioma resection and assess positive fluorescence rates and the effect on the extent of resection. METHODS: A systematic review of PubMed, Google Scholar, and Cochrane was performed from the date of inception to February 1, 2019. Studies that correlated 5-aminolevulinic acid fluorescence with low-grade glioma in the setting of operative resection were selected. Studies with biopsy only were excluded. Positive fluorescence rates were calculated. The quality index of the selected papers was provided. No patient information was used, so Institutional Review Board approval and patient consent were not required. RESULTS: A total of 12 articles met the selection criteria with 244 histologically confirmed low-grade glioma patients who underwent microsurgical resection. All patients received 20 mg/kg body weight of 5-aminolevulinic acid. Only 60 patients (n = 60/244; 24.5%) demonstrated visual intraoperative 5-aminolevulinic acid fluorescence. The extent of resection was reported in 4 studies; however, the data combined low- and high-grade tumors. Only 2 studies reported on tumor location. Only 3 studies reported on clinical outcomes. The Zeiss OPMI Pentero microscope was most commonly used across all studies. The average quality index was 14.58 (range: 10-17), which correlated with an overall good quality. CONCLUSION: There is an overall low correlation between 5-aminolevulinic acid fluorescence and low-grade glioma. Advances in visualization technology and using standardized fluorescence quantification methods may further improve the visualization and reliability of 5-aminolevulinic acid fluorescence in low-grade glioma resection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalOperative Neurosurgery
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1 2020


  • 5-ALA
  • Aminolevulinic acid
  • Fluorescence
  • Fluorescence-guided surgery
  • Low-grade glioma
  • Microscopy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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