Acromegaly

Definition

Acromegaly is a long-term condition in which there is too much growth hormone and the body tissues get larger over time.

Causes

Acromegaly occurs in about 6 of every 100,000 adults. It is caused by abnormal production of growth hormone after the skeleton and other organs finish growing.

Excessive production of growth hormone in children causes gigantism rather than acromegaly.

The cause of the increased growth hormone release is usually a noncancerous (benign) tumor of the pituitary gland. The pituitary gland, which is located just below the brain, controls the production and release of several different hormones, including growth hormone.

Symptoms

Other symptoms that may occur with this disease:

Exams and Tests

This disease may also change the results of the following tests:

Treatment

Surgery to remove the pituitary tumor that is causing this condition usually corrects the abnormal growth hormone release in most patients. Sometimes the tumor is too large to remove completely. People who do not respond to surgery will have radiation of the pituitary gland. However, the reduction in growth hormone levels after radiation is very slow.

The following medications may be used to treat acromegaly:

These medications may be used before surgery, after surgery, or when surgery is not possible.

After treatment, you will need to see your health care provider regularly to make sure that the pituitary gland is working normally. Yearly evaluations are recommended.

Outlook (Prognosis)

Pituitary surgery is successful in most patients, depending on the size of the tumor and the experience of the surgeon.

Without treatment the symptoms will get worse, and the risk of high blood pressure, diabetes (high blood sugar), and cardiovascular disease increases.

Possible Complications

Other health problems may include:

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your health care provider if:

Prevention

There are no methods to prevent the condition, but early treatment may prevent complications of the disease from getting worse.


Review Date: 12/11/2011
Reviewed By: Nancy J. Rennert, MD, Chief of Endocrinology & Diabetes, Norwalk Hospital, Associate Clinical Professor of Medeicine, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

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