Somatotroph adenoma; Growth hormone excess; Pituitary giant (in childhood)
Acromegaly is a condition in which there is too much growth hormone in the body.
Acromegaly is a rare condition. It is caused when the pituitary gland makes too much growth hormone. The pituitary gland is a small endocrine gland attached to the bottom of the brain. It controls, makes, and releases several hormones, including growth hormone.
Usually a noncancerous (benign) tumor of the pituitary gland releases too much growth hormone.
In children, too much growth hormone causes gigantism rather than acromegaly.
Symptoms of acromegaly may include any of the following:
Other symptoms that may occur with this disease:
The health care provider will perform a physical exam and ask about your symptoms.
The following tests may be ordered to confirm diagnosis of acromegaly:
Other tests may be ordered to check whether the rest of the pituitary gland is working normally.
Surgery to remove the pituitary tumor that is causing this condition often corrects the abnormal growth hormone. Sometimes the tumor is too large to be removed completely and acromegaly is not cured. In this case medicines and radiation (radiotherapy) may be used to treat acromegaly.
Some people with tumors that are too complicated to remove by surgery are treated with medicines instead of surgery.
After treatment, you will need to see your provider regularly to make sure that the pituitary gland is working normally and that acromegaly does not come back. Yearly evaluations are recommended.
Pituitary surgery is successful in most people, depending on the size of the tumor and the experience of the surgeon.
Without treatment, the symptoms will get worse. Conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease may result.
Call your provider if:
Acromegaly cannot be prevented. Early treatment may prevent the disease from getting worse and help avoid complications.
Katznelson L, Laws ER Jr, Melmed S, et al. Acromegaly: an Endocrine Society clinical practice guideline. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2014;99:3933-3951. PMID: 25356808
Melmed S. Acromegaly. In: Jameson JL, De Groot LJ, de Kretser DM, et al, eds. Endocrinology: Adult and Pediatric. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 12.
Last reviewed on: 10/28/2015
Reviewed by: Brent Wisse, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine, Division of Metabolism, Endocrinology & Nutrition, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.