Role of octreotide and somatostatin in the treatment of intestinal fistulae

Digestion. 1999;60 Suppl 2:53-6. doi: 10.1159/000051481.


Intestinal fistulae usually arise as a complication of abdominal surgery. Its treatment is complex and intestinal fistula-related morbidity and mortality is high. Fistula closure rates under conservative medical treatment vary between 24 and 72%. Octreotide and somatostatin reduce gastrointestinal, biliary and pancreatic secretion and increase intestinal water and electrolyte absorption. In recent years, octreotide and somatostatin have been associated with conservative medical treatment for patients with intestinal fistulae. Four placebo-controlled studies have been published within the past 6 years. The interpretation of their results is difficult because patient collectives were small and heterogeneous. In one study, somatostatin decreased fistula-related complications when compared to placebo, and in another study, octreotide decreased the healing time of intestinal fistulae and the time patients required total parenteral nutrition when compared to placebo. In contrast, the fistula closure rate, hospitalization time and mortality were not influenced by the use of octreotide or somatostatin in conservative medical treatment. In conclusion, octreotide and somatostatin actually cannot be recommended in the treatment of intestinal fistulae in settings outside of controlled trials.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Gastrointestinal Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Hormones / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Fistula / drug therapy*
  • Octreotide / therapeutic use*
  • Somatostatin / therapeutic use*


  • Gastrointestinal Agents
  • Hormones
  • Somatostatin
  • Octreotide