Acromegaly is a rare, slowly progressive, acquired disorder that affects adults. It occurs when the pituitary gland produces too much growth hormone (GH). The pituitary gland is a small gland located near the base of the skull that stores several hormones and releases them into the bloodstream as needed by the body. These hormones regulate many different bodily functions. In most cases, acromegaly is caused by the growth of a benign tumor (adenoma), affecting the pituitary gland. Symptoms of acromegaly include abnormal enlargement in bones of the hands, arms, feet, legs, and head. Enlargement of the bones in the jaws and in the front of the skull are typically the most apparent bony changes. Acromegaly may also cause thickening of the soft tissues of the body, including the heart, lips, and tongue. When the disease affects children prior to the end of puberty, excess growth hormone can lead to accelerated growth and tall stature, known as gigantism. If untreated, acromegaly can potentially cause serious illness and life-threatening complications.
Pituitary Network Association
For a Complete Report
This is an abstract of a report from the National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD). A copy of the complete report can be downloaded free from the NORD website for registered users. The complete report contains additional information including symptoms, causes, affected population, related disorders, standard and investigational therapies (if available), and references from medical literature. For a full-text version of this topic, go to www.rarediseases.org and click on Rare Disease Database under "Rare Disease Information".
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