Acromegaly is a rare disorder in which a there is too high of a level of growth hormone in the body. Acromegaly is caused by a noncancerous tumor that grows on the pituitary gland. The pituitary gland is a small gland in the brain that produces hormones, including growth hormone. The pituitary tumor causes the pituitary gland to overproduce growth hormone, which results in oversized organs, bone deformities and other secondary disorders.
In children acromegaly is also known as gigantism, because when it occurs in growing children it results in an excessively tall height. In children and adults, there are a wide variety of symptoms of acromegaly, including specific facial changes. Symptoms generally develop slowly over years. If acromegaly is not diagnosed and treated, it can lead to serious damage to vital organs, such as the kidneys, liver, thyroid gland, spleen, pancreas, and parathyroid glands. Life-threatening complications include cancer, diabetes, and cardiomyopathy. For more information on symptoms and complications, refer to symptoms of acromegaly.
Making a diagnosis of acromegaly begins with taking a thorough personal and family medical history, including symptoms, and completing a physical examination. A comparison of current facial features with those of years ago using old photos is often used when acromegaly is suspected.
Diagnostic testing includes blood tests that can determine the amount of growth hormone and insulin-like growth factor in the blood. High levels are diagnostic of acromegaly. X-rays can detect thickening or deformities of the bones that occur with the disease.
Other tests, such as CT and MRI, are also done to evaluate the pituitary tumor that causes acromegaly. Extensive testing is also done to diagnose and treat any complications, such as thyroid disease, diabetes and heart disease.
A diagnosis of acromegaly in adults is often delayed for years because the symptoms develop very slowly. In addition, some symptoms are similar to those of other conditions. For more information on misdiagnosis, refer to misdiagnosis of acromegaly.
Acromegaly can be successfully treated, minimizing the risk of developing serious complications. It is treated with medications and possibly surgery or radiation to treat the pituitary tumor that causes it. For more information on treatment, refer to treatment of acromegaly. ...more »
Acromegaly: A hormonal disorder involving excess growth hormone production by the pituitary gland.
More detailed information about the symptoms,
causes, and treatments of Acromegaly is available below.
Symptoms of acromegaly vary depending on what age the disease occurs and other factors. In children, acromegaly results in an excessively tall stature and is called gigantism.
Other symptoms develop gradually over years and are often subtle. They include facial abnormalities, such as overgrowth of the nose, mouth, and tongue. There can also be oily skin, headaches, ...more symptoms »
Treatment of acromegaly is directed by an endocrinologist, a physician who specializes in diseases of the endocrine system.
Treatment includes treating the pituitary tumor that is at the root of the disease. This may include medications that control the growth of the pituitary tumor and decrease the amount of growth hormone that the pituitary gland releases into the body. ...more treatments »
A diagnosis of acromegaly in adults is often overlooked or delayed because symptoms generally develop slowly over years. In addition, symptoms are often nonspecific and are common symptoms of many other conditions. These include aging, menopause, perimenopause, chronic fatigue syndrome, arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, hypertension, and heart disease. ...more misdiagnosis »
Symptoms of Acromegaly
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symptoms of Acromegaly
Treatments for Acromegaly
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treatments for Acromegaly
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Acromegaly: Related Patient Stories
Types of Acromegaly
- Pituitary-tumor-caused acromegaly
- Non-pituitary-tumor-caused acromegaly
- more types...»
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Rare Types of Acromegaly:
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Diagnostic Tests for Acromegaly
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diagnostic tests for Acromegaly
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Causes of Acromegaly
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causes of Acromegaly
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Disease Topics Related To Acromegaly
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Acromegaly: Undiagnosed Conditions
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Misdiagnosis and Acromegaly
Mild worm infections undiagnosed in children: Human worm infestations, esp. threadworm, can be overlooked in some cases,
because it may cause only mild or even absent symptoms.
Although the most common...read more »
Mesenteric adenitis misdiagnosed as appendicitis in children: Because appendicitis is one of the
more feared conditions for a child with abdominal pain, it can be over-diagnosed
(it...read more »
Blood pressure cuffs misdiagnose hypertension in children: One known misdiagnosis issue
with hyperension, arises in relation to the simple equipment used to test blood pressure.
The "cuff" around the arm to measure...read more »
Children with migraine often misdiagnosed: A migraine often fails to be
correctly diagnosed in pediatric patients.
These patients are not the typical migraine sufferers, but...read more »
Pituitary conditions often undiagnosed cause of symptoms: There are a variety of symptoms
that can be caused by a pituitary disorder (see symptoms of pituitary disorders).
For example, fatigue, headache, weight gain, diabetes...read more »
Read more about Misdiagnosis and Acromegaly
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Clinical Trials for Acromegaly
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and privately supported clinical trials using human volunteers.
Some of the clinical trials listed on ClinicalTrials.gov for Acromegaly include:
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Clinical Trials for Acromegaly
Statistics for Acromegaly
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Types of Acromegaly
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Definitions of Acromegaly:
Disorder caused by excessive secretion of somatotropin, characterized by bony enlargement of face, hands, feet, head and thorax.
- (Source - Diseases Database)
Enlargement of bones of hands and feet and face; often accompanied by headache and muscle pain and emotional disturbances; caused by overproduction of growth hormone by the anterior pituitary gland (due to a tumor)
- (Source - WordNet 2.1)
Acromegaly is listed as a "rare disease" by the Office of
Rare Diseases (ORD) of the National Institutes of Health
(NIH). This means that Acromegaly, or a subtype of Acromegaly,
affects less than 200,000 people in the US population.
Source - National Institutes of Health (NIH)
Ophanet, a consortium of European partners,
currently defines a condition rare when it affects 1 person per 2,000.
They list Acromegaly as a "rare disease".
Source - Orphanet
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