Acromegaly

  • Alternative Names

    Somatotroph adenoma; Growth hormone excess; Pituitary giant


    Treatment

    Surgery to remove the pituitary tumor causing this condition corrects the abnormal growth hormone secretion in most patients. This surgery may not be available to patients in remote locations, so travel to a larger metropolitan area may be necessary for treatment.

    Radiation of the pituitary gland is used for people who do not respond to the surgical treatment. However, the reduction in growth hormone levels after radiation is very slow.

    The following medications may be used to treat acromegaly:

    • Octreotide (Sandostatin) or bromocriptine (Parlodel) may control growth hormone release in some people.
    • Pegvisomant (Somavert) directly blocks the effects of growth hormone, and has been shown to improve symptoms of acromegaly.

    These medications may be used before surgery, or when surgery is not possible.

    After treatment, periodic evaluation is necessary to ensure that the pituitary gland is working normally. Yearly evaluations are recommended.


    Support Groups


    Expectations (prognosis)

    Pituitary surgery is successful in most patients, depending on the size of the tumor and the experience of the surgeon.

    Without treatment the symptoms will get worse, and the risk of cardiovascular disease increases.


    Complications
    • Arthritis
    • Cardiovascular disease
    • Carpal tunnel syndrome
    • Colonic polyps
    • Glucose intolerance or diabetes
    • High blood pressure
    • Hypopituitarism
    • Sleep apnea
    • Spinal cord compression
    • Uterine fibroids
    • Vision abnormalities

    Calling your health care provider

    Call your health care provider if you have symptoms of acromegaly, or if your symptoms do not improve with treatment.