Acromegaly – Causes, Picture, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment

Acromegaly is a dysfunction of hormones that develop when the pituitary gland creates more growth hormones at the age of adulthood. When this occurs, your bones have increased size, including hands, face, and feet. Acromegaly generally affects the middle-aged people and from adult to any age. Children undergrowth stage may suffer from gigantism due to more growth hormones. These children develop more large bones, which are abnormal in height.

The condition acromegaly is not common, and it has a slow change in physical appearance. This condition may also take a long time to know it.

If this condition is not treated with time, it may cause serious sickness and risky. The available treatments can help to lower the complication risk and improve the condition of characteristics, including features enlargements.

Facts About Acromegaly

Acromegaly is a result of more growth hormones in the body.

It can result in unusual physical features such as deformities, swollen feet and hands, and complications, with influence also on bone health and muscle strength.

This condition is generally occurred by a tumor on the pituitary gland describe as a pituitary adenoma.

This condition has treatments include:

  • Surgery
  • Radiotherapy
  • Medication To Restrict Growth

Causes of Acromegaly

Hypothalamus and Pituitary gland causes the acromegaly when they overproduce growth hormone over time. The pituitary gland is a tiny organ located at the bottom of the brain and back of the nose bridge. It produces various hormones. Growth hormones are essential for balancing physical growth.

When growth hormone is released into the bloodstream, it induces your liver to create a hormone described as insulin, such as growth factor-I. In turn, IGF-I stimulates the increase of all bones and other membranes.

If the pituitary gland produces extra growth hormones, an excessive amount of IGF-I can happen. The high number of IGF-I can cause abnormal growth of the skeleton and soft tissues. It may have other symptoms like gigantism and acromegaly.

Adults may have a tumor, which is a common cause of excessive growth hormones production.

Pituitary tumors
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In most cases of acromegaly occur by a noncancerous tumor in the pituitary gland. The tumor secretes a high amount of growth hormones, which show symptoms and signs of acromegaly. Other signs of acromegaly involve weakened vision and headaches dues to tumor mass crushing near brain tissues.

Nonpituitary tumors

In some individuals with acromegaly, tumors in diverse areas of the body, for example, the lungs or pancreas, are more prone to get the tumor. Now and again, these tumors emit GH. In many cases, the tumors produce a hormone named growth hormone-discharging hormone (GH-RH), which activates the pituitary organ to make more GH.

Symptoms of Acromegaly
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The acromegaly condition has many symptoms and signs. They develop slowly and look unrelated. The first sign of this condition appears on hands and feet that grow largely.

Here are the other symptoms

  • Protruding jaw
  • Protruding brow
  • Thick lips
  • Enlarged nose(especially a wider nose bridge)
  • Spaced-out teeth:As the jaw grows, gaps increase between the teeth.

Since acromegaly is occurred by a non-cancerous (benign) tumor on the pituitary gland. There are different symptoms linked with specific to the tumor in the brain. Those symptoms include:


Vision changes

(if the tumor is crushing on the nerves around to the eyes)

Nerve paralysis:

The tumor can push on a nerve giving the muscles or sensations in the head. These nerves are described cranial nerves, and if the loss of motion occurs, that is called cranial tissue paralysis. For example, acromegaly can change the nerves that regulate eye tissues and change how healthy the eyes move.

There are different symptoms and signs because of the enlargement of different body parts, including:

  • Joint pain: Acromegaly regularly makes the bones and ligaments develop excessively, making movement painful.
  • Deeper voice: The sinuses and vocal lines can get amplified, which will change how your voice sounds.
  • Sleep apnea: The airway wall thickens and causes breathing discomfort related to sleep apnea.
  • Hypertension: The vascular and heart become enlarged and cause prompting hypertension.

Other Symptoms

Some more symptoms linked with acromegaly with extra growth hormone release:

  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Skin Tags
  • Colon Polyps
  • Excessive Perspiration
  • Abnormal Menstrual Cycles
  • Lower Libido
  • Erectile Dysfunction
  • Diabetes
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

In certain individuals with acromegaly, the spine may strangely bend from front to back and side to side (kyphoscoliosis). The excess growth of tissue may trap nerves, causing weakness and numbness of the hands (carpal passage dysfunction). Uneven covering and thickening of patches of skin in a particular part of the body (acanthosis nigricans) are noticeable. An extreme measure of body hair, which describe as hirsutism, and little outgrowths of strange extra skin labels may have found similarly.

At times, acromegaly may cause strange growth of specific organs, including the heart. Side effects may incorporate trouble breathing upon effort (dyspnea) as well as irregular pulses (arrhythmias). Heart contribution in acromegaly can at last lead to a congestive cardiovascular breakdown, in which the heart can’t appropriately pass blood to the lungs, and the remainder of the body, bringing about liquid development in the heart, lung and different body tissues.

Acromegaly symptoms grow slowly. Therefore, you may not know it. It is important to check with your doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Acromegaly Complications

Acromegaly progression can lead to major health problems. Here are the complications.

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Hypertension (High blood pressure)
  • Cardiovascular disease like cardiomyopathy (enlargement of the heart)
  • Goiter
  • Vision loss
  • Precancerous growths (polyps on the lining of the colon)
  • Sleep apnea
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Spinal cord compression

Early testing and treatment of acromegaly prevent risky complications. Ignoring this condition could contribute to premature death.

Acromegaly Treatment

The treatment of Acromegaly focuses on reducing the growth hormone production as well as lowering the negative effects of the tumor over pituitary glands and tissues. You may require more treatment according to your condition.


Surgery treatment is necessary for severe conditions. Your doctor can perform Endoscopic-transnasal-transsphenoidal surgery to remove the pituitary tumors. During this procedure, your physician work in your nose to take out the pituitary tumor.

Extracting the tumor helps to regulate growth hormone production and reduce the pressure over surrounding tissues of the pituitary gland to relieve linked with symptoms and signs. In some cases, your doctor may not able to extract the whole tumor. It may cause to raise growth hormone after surgery and need radiation treatment.


Drugs used to reduce the production or hinder the action of GH includes:

Somatostatin Analogs

It is a drug for lowering the excessive secretion of growth hormone. The lanreotide and octreotide are a synthetic variant of a brain hormone called somatostatin.

They can affect with extra secretion growth hormone by the pituitary gland, cause fast declines in the levels of growth hormones. These drugs are recommended by injection in the buttocks muscles (gluteal muscles) once in a month by your physician.

Dopamine Agonists

It is a drug for reducing hormone levels. It is oral medication bromocriptine and cabergoline, which reduce growth hormone levels. The tumor may lower in size in some people by taking dopamine. Some people may grow addicted behavior such as gambling while taking medications.

Growth Hormone Antagonist

This drug helps to block the growth hormone action. The medication is Smoavert (pegvisomant), which blocks the impact of growth hormone on your body tissues. Pegvisomant specifically helps people who have not had other treatments effective. It is given every day as an injection to regulate IGF-I levels and reduce the acromegaly symptoms, but it does not reduce growth hormone or tumor size.


Your primary care physician may prescribe radiation treatment when tumor cells stay after a medical procedure. Radiation treatment demolishes any standing tumor cells and slowly lessens GH levels. It might take a long time for this treatment to improve acromegaly signs.

Radiation Therapy: Types

Conventional Radiation Therapy

Conventional Radiation Therapy

This radiation treatment is typically given each weekday from more than four to about 4-6 weeks. You may not understand the full impact of standard radiation treatment for at least 10-years after treatment.

Proton Beam Therapy
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Proton beam treatment provides a focused on, a high portion of radiation to the tumor, saving radiation delivering to normal tissues. This treatment is given infractions after some time, yet treatment times are commonly not exactly conventional radiation.

Stereotactic Radiosurgery
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Stereotactic radiosurgery provides an increased dose of radiation to the cells of a tumor in a single dose by reducing the radiation to the surrounding normal tissues. This radiation helps to regulate growth hormones within five years.

After doing the initial treatment, acromegaly needs periodic monitoring by the doctor to know that the pituitary gland is properly functioning to prevent complications. This follow-up care requires for the remaining lifetime.

Acromegaly: diagnose

Blood tests

Often the acromegaly condition is diagnosed by two different blood tests, which helps to show if your body is producing more growth hormones.

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Every day there is a change in the levels of growth hormones. A safe way to know the growth hormone in your body is by counting the IGF-I level in the blood. Most of the cases show that high levels of IGF-I indicate acromegaly.

Oral glucose tolerance test
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Your physician will suggest an oral glucose tolerance test to confirm the diagnosis. This test involves drinking a sugary liquid. The presence of sugar in drink causes to fall the growth hormone levels. If your body makes more hormones, then it will not fall, though it confirms the diagnosis.

Imaging tests

If the blood tests are positive than your body is making an excess of GH, your physician will direct imaging tests to find and measure the tumor that might be causing the issue. Two usually utilized tests are:

Magnetic Resonance Imaging

The favored test for a review of a pituitary tumor is the magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) NIH outside connection check. The MRI check utilizes radio waves and magnets to make detailed pictures of your inner organs and delicate tissues without x-rays.

Computed tomography scan

Computed tomography scan

If the MRI imaging is not showing details, then your physician may suggest for computed tomography or NIH external scan. The CT scan recommends for computer technology and x-rays to produce an image of internal organs and other parts of the body.

According to an MRI scan, you will know the size and location of the pituitary tumor. If the test comes negative and there is no tumor, then your physician will look for nonpituitary tumors that causing high growth hormone.

Affected Populations

Acromegaly is an uncommon issue that influences men and women in equivalent numbers. This disorder occurs in roughly 50 to 70 individuals for every million. Specialists gauge that three individuals out of each million builds up the ailment every year. In any case, because the side effects of acromegaly may grow gradually, the disease may frequently stay unrecognized and may, in this way, be underdiagnosed, making it hard to decide the genuine recurrence of acromegaly in everyone.

Acromegaly can happen at any age after puberty. However, it typically happens during the 4-5th decades. At the point when the excessive discharge of growth hormone occurs before adolescence, the condition is described as gigantism, not acromegaly.


Acromegaly affects both females and males equally. The diagnosis happens at an average age of 40-50 years. Only 5% of cases occur at the age of 20 years. Due to false encounters and slow progression, the acromegaly is diagnoses after occurring of 5-10 years. Its typical facial features include enlargement of ears and nose, front head furrowing, brow protrusion, lips thickening, skin wrinkles, nasolabial folds, mandibular prognathism, which cause dental malocclusion and extra interdental spacing.

Extra growth of feet and hands mainly due to swelling in soft tissue present in high numbers in acromegalic patients. Gigantism estimates for up to 5% of incidents and occur when the extra growth hormone becomes evident in the young, before the epiphyseal fusion.

The illness additionally has cardiovascular, rheumatologic, respiratory, neoplastic, metabolic appearances, neurological, which negatively impact its patients’ satisfaction. Under 15% of acromegalic patients effectively look for clinical consideration for change in appearance or expansion of the furthest points. The introduction of acromegaly is all the more frequently identified with its fundamental comorbidities or surrounding tumor impacts.

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