Acromegaly is a hormonal disorder where there is an overproduction of growth hormones in the body. The growth hormone is produced by the pituitary gland. The medical condition arises when this gland produces too high a level of the hormone. When levels of growth hormones in the body are too high, different symptoms may arise. Major symptoms of acromegaly include physical changes, enlargement of bones in face, hands, feet, and other areas. Typically, acromegaly affects middle-aged adults, in both men and women. Acromegaly progresses slowly, resulting in a difficult diagnosis during the early stages.
Acromegaly is a disorder that affects the bones in both men and women. The disorder happens when the pituitary gland over produces the growth hormone. The change caused by the disease, may be gradual and hard to diagnosis in the early stages.
- Enlarged hands, feet, facial features
- Coarse, thickened skin
- Excessive sweating, odor
- Enlarged vocal cords and sinus, resulting in deepened voice
- Severe snoring
- Impaired vision
- Enlarged tongue
- Joint pain
- Irregular menstrual cycles
- Erectile dysfunction
- Enlarged liver, heart, spleen, kidneys, and other organs
Typically, acromegaly is caused by a pituitary gland tumor (adenoma). The tumors cause the body to over produce growth hormones, resulting in the abnormal growths. The hormonal disorder may also be caused by other tumors throughout the body.
- This type of tumor is located at the base of the brain and presses on the brain tissue nearby. Pituitary tumors are the main cause of the disorder. The tumor over produces the growth hormone, resulting in different symptoms.
Non Pituitary Tumors
- Other cases of acromegaly, result from other tumors throughout the body. Tumors in the lungs, pancreas, or other parts can cause the overproduction of growth hormones in the body.
Acromegaly is diagnosed a few different ways. If the disorder is suspected in an individual, a medical professional will conduct different tests and imaging to either confirm or rule out the diagnosis. Since acromegaly slowly progresses in the body, the disorder may be hard to diagnosis during the early stages.
- Different imaging can be used to determine and locate the pituitary tumor. Typically, a magnetic resonance imaging or MRI is used. If there is no tumor, other imaging may take place in other sections of the body to determine the reason behind the overproduction of the growth hormone.
GH and IGF-I Measurement
- This is a blood sample to measure the levels of GH and IFG-I in the body.
Growth Hormone Suppression Test
- Test that measures blood levels of growth hormone in the body. The test measures these levels before and after you drink a concoction of sugar or glucose.
There are many different types of acromegaly treatment that may be used. A medical professional will determine what treatment should be used to reduce the levels of growth hormones in the body.
- Surgery may be used to remove the pituitary tumor. The surgery is usually done through the nose to remove the tumor and reduce the growth hormone levels. Removal of the tumor can also help to relieve symptoms and reduce the pressure on the surrounding brain tissue.
- Radiation treatment may be used to remove any tumor cells that are left after surgery has taken place.
- Dopamine Agonists: help to lower levels of GH and IGF-I as well as reduce the size of the tumor.
- Growth Hormone Antagonist: helps to block the growth hormone effects on the body tissue.
- Somatostatin Analogues: helps to lower levels of GH in the body.