Acromegaly is a rare hormonal disorder that occurs when pituitary gland overproduces growth hormone in the body. Normally, growth hormone (GH) is produced by pituitary gland present in the brain but any kind of benign or non-cancerous tumor in the pituitary gland may result in excessive production of the growth hormone. Such non-cancerous tumors are called adenomas.
Acromegaly can affect people of any age but usually it affects people between ages 30 and 50. It is caused by abnormal production of growth hormone after normal growth of the skeleton and other organs is complete. The cause of the increased hormone secretion is generally the presence of a benign pituitary gland tumor.
Clinical manifestations depend on the level of growth hormone and insulin-like growth hormone. Age, misdiagnosis, late diagnosis, and size of tumor contribute to clinical presentation. The clinical presentation of complications of acromegalic patients include increased levels of growth hormone which in turn causes many diseases like pituitary adenomas, soft tissue complications, irregular growth of body parts, etc. Most common complications of acromegaly include cardiovascular complications, respiratory complications, skeletal complications, etc.
The goal of treatment in acromegaly is to restore the pituitary gland to normal function, producing normal levels of growth hormone, as well as reducing the negative effects of the tumor on the pituitary gland and surrounding tissues. The treatment includes surgical removal of the tumor, radiation therapy, and injection of growth hormone blocking drugs.
Both gigantism and acromegaly are hormonal disorder syndromes caused due to the over secretion of growth hormone, a condition called as hypersomatotropism. Both these syndromes mostly occur due to a pituitary adenoma. Too much of growth hormone in children indicates gigantism and is extremely rare. Acromegaly in adults mainly occurs in middle-aged men and women.