PURPOSE: Octreotide is an analog of somatostatin, with the same biologic effects but a longer half-life than somatostatin. The purpose of this experimental study was to search the effects of octreotide on the healing of bowel anastomosis and to observe the anatomic and physiologic changes in the obstructed bowel. METHODS: Two groups of ten male Wistar albino rats (average weight, 250 grams) were used in this study. One group was the octreotide group, and the other was the control group. In both groups, the basal diameters of jejunum were measured before ligation of the bowel 20 cm from the duodenum. Octreotide was administered subcutaneously (7 mu g/kg/day, in two equal doses) in the first group, and the same volume of saline was used in the control group. Diameters of the obstructed segments were measured, and sodium and potassium levels, obtained from the luminal fluid of the obstructed bowel, were recorded 48 hours following the first operation. Dilated segments were resected, and end-to-end intestinal anastomoses were performed. In rats sacrificed on the fourth and seventh days following the second operation, bursting pressures of the anastomotic and hydroxyproline levels in tissue samples taken from the anastomosis were measured. RESULTS: The diameter of the obstructed bowel increased significantly in the control group (P < 0.05), Sodium and potassium tosses were significantly less in the octreotide group (P < 0.001 for sodium; P < 0.01 for potassium). In histopathologic examination, ischemic changes were more evident in the control group (P < 0.05). Anastomotic bursting pressure differences were not significant on the fourth postoperative day (P > 0.05), but differences were significant on the seventh postoperative day (P < 0.05). Anastomotic tissue hydroxproline synthesis on the fourth and seventh postoperative days of the octreotide and control groups did not show significant difference (P > 0.05). CONCLUSION: In this experimental model, it appears that octreotide attenuates the ischemic changes and electrolyte losses in the obstructed bowel.