by Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
Acromegaly is a rare disorder caused by an excess of growth hormone (GH). GH controls the growth of soft tissue and bone. Too much GH results in bones and tissues that increase in size.
Young children are still growing. Excess GH can cause a similar health problem called gigantism. This causes dramatic growth in children.
This problem happens when the pituitary gland in the brain makes too much GH. This may happen due to:
This problem often starts around 45 years of age. Rarely, family history may increase the risk of this problem.
Symptoms usually start slowly over time.
In children, the bones grow longer and cause soft tissue swelling. If not treated, children can grow to a height of 7 to 8 feet.
Problems in adults may be:
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done.
You will have blood tests.
Images may be taken of the body. This can be done with:
The goals of treatment are to reduce GH levels and ease symptoms. Choices are:
There are no current guidelines to prevent acromegaly.
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
Pituitary Network Association
Canadian Society of Endocrinology and Metabolism
Acromegaly. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/acromegaly. Accessed October 29, 2020.
Katznelson L, Atkinson JL, et al; American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists. American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists medical guidelines for clinical practice for the diagnosis and treatment of acromegaly - 2011 update. Endocr Pract. 2011 Jul-Aug;17 Suppl 4:1-44.
Last reviewed September 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board James P. Cornell, MD