Octreotide (Somatostatin) Scan

This information will help you prepare for your octreotide scan with radioactive Indium-111 tracer at Memorial Sloan Kettering (MSK).

About Your Neuroendocrine System

Your neuroendocrine (nur-o-EN-doe-crin) system is in charge of sending messages that help control things like your digestion, blood pressure, and breathing. It uses hormones to carry these messages.

Somatostatin (so-ma-toe-STAT-in) is one of the hormones in your neuroendocrine system. It attaches to neuroendocrine cells, neuroendocrine tumors, and certain other types of tumors.

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About Your Octreotide Scan

An octreotide scan is an imaging procedure that’s used to:

  • Look for neuroendocrine tumors.
  • Find where the cancer started (the primary site) and any places the cancer has spread (metastases).
  • See how treatment is working.

Octreotide is a medication that’s very similar to somatostatin. It attaches to neuroendocrine cells and tumors.

Before your octreotide scan, you’ll get an injection (shot) of octreotide tagged with radioactive Indium-111. This is called the radioactive tracer. During your scan, a special camera called a gamma camera will take pictures to see where the radioactive tracer goes in your body. If it goes to places it shouldn’t normally go, it can mean that there’s a neuroendocrine tumor there.

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Before Your Octreotide Scan

  • Tell your doctor if you’re pregnant, or if you think you may be pregnant.
  • Tell your doctor if you’re breastfeeding.

Radioactive tracer injection

An octreotide scan is a 2-day process. On the day before your scan (day 1), you’ll get an injection of the radioactive tracer. You can go home after this injection. On the next day (day 2), you’ll come back for the scan.

Where to go

Your radioactive tracer injection will be done at our Nuclear Medicine center in the Schwartz Research Building in Manhattan. The Schwartz Research Building is located in the same building as Memorial Hospital, on the opposite side. The entrance is located on First Avenue between East 67th and East 68th Streets. The Nuclear Medicine center is at:

1250 First Avenue
(between East 67th and East 68th Streets)
2nd floor

After you enter the building, take the short flight of stairs on your left to the 2nd floor. If you’re unable to take the stairs, tell the security guard at the desk, and they will help you take the elevator. Check in at the reception desk in Nuclear Medicine.

What to expect

The injection will be given in your hand or arm. The amount of radioactivity in the tracer is very small, and it won’t make you radioactive or affect you or anyone around you. You don’t need to take any special precautions after getting the injection.


After your injection, your nurse will give you a laxative such as bisacodyl (Dulcolax®). This will help make sure the pictures from the scan are as clear as possible. Take the laxative at home at bedtime. It’s a mild laxative and doesn’t usually cause diarrhea.

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The Day of Your Octreotide Scan

Where to go

Your octreotide scan will also be done at our Nuclear Medicine center in the Schwartz Research Building, where you had your injection the day before. Check in at the reception desk.

What to expect

After you check in at the reception desk, you will be brought to the scanning room. You will change into a hospital gown. A nurse will help you onto a special table, where you will lie on your back with your arms by your side. Once you’re comfortable, the scan will begin.

During the scan, a gamma camera will be used to take pictures of your entire body. You won’t be able to feel the scan. The scan can take up to 2 hours, and it’s important that you lie very still until it’s done. If you think you may have trouble lying still for this long, speak with your doctor.

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After Your Octreotide Scan

  • You may leave as soon as your scan is done, unless you have other tests or procedures scheduled.
  • Drink 6 to 8 (8-ounce) glasses of water and other liquids to help remove the tracer from your body. Be sure to drink liquids in addition to water.
  • If you’re breastfeeding, stop for 24 hours after your scan. You can pump your milk, but throw away the milk you pumped during this time. You can start breastfeeding again after 24 hours.
  • You will have a small amount of radioactive material in your body for about 1 month after your scan. The radioactivity isn’t harmful and won’t affect you or anyone around you.
  • You will receive a card that says you had a test done with radioactive tracer. Please keep this card with you for 1 month, as some security equipment can detect radioactivity.
  • A radiologist will read your scan and send the results to your doctor. The results are usually ready for your doctor in 1 to 3 business days.
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