Understanding an Octreotide Scan

Have you been referred for an octreotide scan, and hope to learn more about it before your visit? We are here to help.

The octreotide scan is a unique imaging technique that uses a substance called octreotide to find specific areas of concern in the body. This imaging test is excellent at spotting certain tumors and other issues. Ultimately, the scan helps doctors diagnose and plan treatments for different conditions by showing them exactly where these problems are. 

Let's explore how tits importance works and why it may be vital in your healthcare journey. Continue reading to learn more. 

What is an Octreotide Scan?

An octreotide scan, also known as octreoscan or somatostatin receptor scintigraphy, is a type of nuclear medicine imaging test used to detect certain tumors in the body. It involves injecting a radioactive tracer called Octreotide, a synthetic form of somatostatin, into the patient's bloodstream.

Somatostatin is a hormone that binds to specific receptors found in various tissues, including tumors. The Octreotide tracer attaches to these receptors if they are present in the body, allowing imaging equipment (like a gamma camera) to create detailed images of the location and size of the tumors.

Octreotide scintigraphy helps radiologists locate and evaluate tumors, guide treatment decisions, and monitor the progression or response to therapy.

What is an Octreotide Scan Used For?

An octreotide scan is primarily used for

  • Detecting Neuroendocrine Tumors (NETs):  It's particularly effective in diagnosing neuroendocrine tumors. These tumors can develop in various organs, such as the pancreas, gastrointestinal tract, lungs, or other tissues, and often, octreotide plays a vital role in locating, diagnosing, and monitoring NETs.
  • Staging and Localization: An Octreotide scan is a radiology test used to determine the extent (staging) and precise location of NETs within the body. This information is crucial for planning treatment strategies.
  • Assessing Treatment Response: After treatment (surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation therapy) for NETs, octreotide scans can be used to evaluate the response to treatment or monitor for potential recurrence of tumors.
  • Research and Clinical Trials: In some cases, octreotide scintigraphy is used in research studies or clinical trials to evaluate new treatments or study the behavior of certain types of tumors.

The scan is particularly valuable because it targets somatostatin receptors, which are present in high concentrations on the surface of many neuroendocrine tumor cells. Using a radioactive tracer that binds to these receptors allows for precise imaging and localization of these tumors within the body.

Octreotide Scintigraphy Scan: What to Expect

Before your octreotide scan, your doctor might review your medications and advise fasting for several hours. Drinking water is usually encouraged to aid in clearing the tracer from your body. 

During the scan, a radioactive tracer is injected into a vein in your arm. You'll then lie on a scanning table while a gamma camera takes images of your body, which might take some time. Remaining still during imaging is essential to obtain clear pictures. 

After the scan, you can generally resume regular activities. Drinking fluids is encouraged to help eliminate the tracer from your system. 

Potential side effects, such as allergic reactions (though rare) or mild discomfort at the injection site, should be noted. 

Your doctor will discuss the results with you during a follow-up appointment. Always adhere to your doctor's instructions regarding preparation and post-scan care, as they will provide specific guidance tailored to your health needs and the purpose of the scan.

How Long Does It Take to Have an Octreotide Scan?

The duration of an octreotide scan can vary, but typically, it involves the following steps:

  1. Injection of Octreotide: The radioactive substance is injected into a vein, usually in the arm.
  2. Waiting Period: After the injection, you may need to wait a few hours to allow the octreotide to circulate and accumulate in the targeted areas, such as neuroendocrine tumors.
  3. Imaging: The imaging process involves using a gamma camera to take pictures of the areas where the octreotide has accumulated. This imaging can take around 1 to 2 hours.

The process may take several hours, including the waiting period and imaging. The waiting time allows the radioactive substance to concentrate in the areas of interest, making them more visible on the scan.

The specific protocol and waiting times can vary depending on the healthcare facility and the purpose of the scan (e.g., to detect tumors or monitor treatment effectiveness). Before your scan, we will discuss timing with you so you understand what to expect.

At Valley Radiology, we specialize in the interpretation of cutting-edge octreotide scans for precise tumor detection. To learn more about this scan option, contact our team today.