Background Acute administration of octreotide reduces visceral perception and therefore has been suggested as potential treatment for irritable bowel syndrome. Whether prolonged treatment with octreotide also reduces visceral sensitivity and improves gastrointestinal symptoms remains, however, unknown.
Aim To investigate the effect of a slow release preparation of octreotide on rectal sensitivity and symptoms in irritable bowel syndrome patients.
Methods Forty-six non-constipated irritable bowel syndrome patients (52% female, 19–63 years) participated. Before and after 8 weeks of treatment with octreotide (Sandostatin LAR 20 mg i.m.) or placebo, patients underwent a barostat study to assess the rectal sensitivity. During a 2-week run-in period and treatment, abdominal pain, defecation frequency, consistency and symptom relief were scored weekly.
Results Octreotide, but not placebo, significantly increased the threshold for first sensation. Thresholds for urge to defecate and discomfort/pain and rectal compliance were not altered by either treatment. Octreotide improved stool consistency compared with placebo (loose stools after eight weeks: octreotide: 52%, placebo: 81%, P < 0.05). In contrast, abdominal pain and defecation frequency were not affected.
Conclusions Although the threshold of first rectal sensation increased and stool consistency improved, long-term treatment with octreotide, at least at the current dose used, has no visceral analgesic effect and fails to improve irritable bowel syndrome symptoms.