Neuroendocrine Tumor Imaging with In-111 OctreoScan

Indium-111 (In-111) pentetreotide, commonly known as OctreoScan, is a radiopharmaceutical used in nuclear medicine imaging for the detection and localization of neuroendocrine tumors that express somatostatin receptors.


• Indium-111 (In-111) pentetreotide (OctreoScan)

Indium-111 (In-111) is a radioactive isotope of the element indium, which emits gamma radiation. Pentetreotide is a synthetic somatostatin analogue that binds to somatostatin receptors, which are found in high concentrations on the surface of neuroendocrine tumor cells. By combining In-111 with pentetreotide, a radiolabeled compound is formed that specifically targets somatostatin receptor-expressing tumors.

Principle of the Test

• OctreoScan is a radiolabeled analogue of somatostatin, designed for the scintigraphic detection of neuroendocrine tumors expressing somatostatin receptors.

When In-111 pentetreotide is administered to a patient through intravenous injection, it circulates in the bloodstream and binds to somatostatin receptors on tumor cells. The gamma radiation emitted by the Indium-111 isotope is then detected using a gamma camera, which captures images of the radiopharmaceutical distribution in the body. Areas with high concentrations of In-111 pentetreotide, such as neuroendocrine tumors, appear as "hotspots" on the acquired images, allowing for the visualization and localization of these tumors.

OctreoScan is particularly useful for diagnosing and managing various types of neuroendocrine tumors, such as carcinoid tumors, gastrinomas, insulinomas, and other gastroenteropancreatic neuroendocrine tumors. Additionally, it helps assess the suitability of somatostatin analogue therapy, as tumors with positive OctreoScan results are more likely to respond to this treatment.

Testing Conditions/Procedures

Patient preparation

– Bowel preparation is essential, especially for suspected abdominal lesions

– Encourage hydration and frequent urinary bladder emptying

– Monitor diabetic patients for potential hypoglycemia

– Temporarily discontinue octreotide therapy if applicable

– Take precautions for breastfeeding and childbearing age patients 


 3-6 mCi (111-220 MBq) per patient

• Administered intravenously (IV)

• Wait 4-6 hours after injection for initial imaging; additional images may be captured at 24 hours or 48-72 hours post-injection

Patient positioning

The patient should be in the supine position

Gamma camera

Use a medium-energy general-purpose (MEGP) collimator

• Image Acquisition

– Position the gamma camera anteriorly and posteriorly or use a dual-head camera for simultaneous imaging

– Set photon peaks at 172 and 245 keV with 20% windows

– Utilize a 256 x 256 matrix or, for whole-body scanning, a 256 x 1024 matrix

– Acquire a minimum of 500,000 counts per image

– Set whole-body scan (WBS) speed to 3 cm/min

– Obtain spot images of regions of interest and lateral views of the head, neck, chest, and abdomen

– Perform single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) with 60 projections of 6° each or 90 projections of 4° each using a 64 x 64 matrix

– Allow 45-60 seconds per projection


• Employ specialized PC programs for image processing; further analysis of counts in different regions of interest (ROI) may be useful

Clinical applications

• Diagnosis and management of somatostatin receptor-expressing gastroenteropancreatic (GEP) neuroendocrine tumors and carcinoid tumors, as well as other non-GEP neuroendocrine tumors

• Detection of carcinoid, islet cell carcinoma, gastrinoma, glucagonoma, insulinoma, VIPoma, and motilinoma

Necessary additional examinations

• Computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)

• Ultrasound

• Serologic tests for specific tumor markers

• Fine needle aspiration biopsy (FNAB)

• Positron emission tomography/computed tomography (PET/CT) with appropriate tracers


• If OctreoScan uptake is absent, the use of somatostatin analogues for treatment is discouraged

• SPECT/CT provides superior detection capabilities


• Reports should include descriptions of normal distribution and any pathological uptakes, as well as correlations between nuclear findings and morphological images

Enhancing Neuroendocrine Tumor Detection with In-111 OctreoScan

Patient Follow-Up and Monitoring

• Regular follow-up imaging is recommended to assess the response to treatment and monitor for recurrence or progression of neuroendocrine tumors

• The frequency of follow-up imaging depends on the tumor type, stage, and treatment response, as well as the patient's overall health status

Potential Limitations and Pitfalls

• OctreoScan may not detect all somatostatin receptor-expressing tumors, particularly those with low receptor expression or small tumor size

• False-positive results may occur in the presence of inflammatory or granulomatous lesions, as these can also express somatostatin receptors

• Other imaging modalities, such as CT, MRI, or PET/CT, may provide complementary information and help confirm or exclude OctreoScan findings

Alternative Imaging Techniques

• If OctreoScan is not suitable or does not yield conclusive results, other imaging techniques can be employed:

– Gallium-68 (Ga-68) DOTATATE PET/CT, which has a higher sensitivity and specificity for detecting somatostatin receptor-expressing tumors

– Fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) PET/CT, which can be useful for detecting aggressive, rapidly growing tumors with high glucose metabolism

Radiation Safety

• Ensure that radiation safety guidelines are followed for both patients and healthcare professionals during the OctreoScan procedure

• Minimize radiation exposure by following the ALARA (As Low As Reasonably Achievable) principle


In summary, In-111 OctreoScan is a valuable diagnostic tool for detecting neuroendocrine tumors with somatostatin receptors. Proper patient preparation, imaging technique, and follow-up are critical for obtaining accurate results. Additional imaging modalities, such as CT, MRI, or PET/CT, may provide complementary information and enhance diagnostic accuracy. Regular follow-up and monitoring are essential for managing these patients, and radiation safety guidelines should always be observed.


Olsen JO, Pozderac RV, Hinkle G, Hill T, O'Dorisio TM, Schirmer WJ, Ellison EC, O'Dorisio MS. Somatostatin receptor imaging of neuroendocrine tumors with indium-111 pentetreotide (Octreoscan). Semin Nucl Med. 1995 Jul;25(3):251-61. doi: 10.1016/s0001-2998(95)80014-x. PMID: 7570044.

Kindly Let Us Know If This Was helpful? Thank You!

About the Author MyEndoConsult

The MyEndoconsult Team. A group of physicians dedicated to endocrinology and internal medicine education.

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}