Home > Health A – Z > Acromegaly


A condition in which the pituitary gland makes too much growth hormone after normal growth of the skeleton is finished. This causes the bones of the hands, feet, head, and face to grow larger than normal.

PubMed Health Glossary
(Source: NIH - National Cancer Institute)

About Acromegaly

Acromegaly is a hormonal disorder that results from too much growth hormone (GH) in the body. The pituitary, a small gland in the brain, makes GH. In acromegaly, the pituitary produces excessive amounts of GH. Usually the excess GH comes from benign, or noncancerous, tumors on the pituitary. These benign tumors are called adenomas.

Acromegaly is most often diagnosed in middle-aged adults, although symptoms can appear at any age. If not treated, acromegaly can result in serious illness and premature death. Acromegaly is treatable in most patients, but because of its slow and often "sneaky" onset, it often is not diagnosed early or correctly. The most serious health consequences of acromegaly are type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, increased risk of cardiovascular disease, and arthritis. Patients with acromegaly are also at increased risk for colon polyps, which may develop into colon cancer if not removed....Read more about Acromegaly NIH - National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

What works? Research summarized

Evidence reviews

Surgical interventions and medical treatments in treatment-naive patients with acromegaly: systematic review and meta-analysis

CONTEXT: Acromegaly is usually treated with surgery as a first-line treatment, although medical therapy has also been used as an alternative primary treatment.

Estrogen and selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMs) for the treatment of acromegaly: a meta-analysis of published observational studies

Estrogen and selective estrogen receptor modulator (SERM) treatments for acromegaly have received limited attention since the development of newer pharmacologic therapies. There has been ongoing research evidence suggesting their utility in the biochemical control of acromegaly. Therefore, the aim of this meta-analysis was to synthesise current evidence with a view to determining to what extent and in which acromegalic patient subsets do estrogen and SERMs reduce IGF-1 levels. A literature search was conducted (finished December 2012), which included all studies pertaining to estrogen or SERM treatment and IGF-1. Seven patient subsets were identified from six published observational studies, and were pooled using meta-analytic methods. Overall, the pooled mean loss in IGF-1 was -29.09 nmol/L (95 % CI -37.23 to -20.95). A sensitivity analysis indicated that women receiving estrogen had a substantially greater reduction in IGF-1 levels compared with women receiving SERMs, with a weighted mean loss in IGF-1 of -38.12 nmol/L (95 % CI -46.78 to -29.45) compared with -22.91 nmol/L (95 % CI -32.73 to -13.09). There was a trend that did not reach statistical significance for men receiving SERM treatment at -11.41 nmol/L (95 % CI -30.14 to 7.31). It was concluded that estrogen and SERMs are a low cost and effective treatment to achieve control of IGF-1 levels in acromegalic women either as concomitant treatment for refractory disease, or where access to conventional therapy is restricted. Their use in men requires further study.

Preoperative somatostatin analogues versus direct transsphenoidal surgery for newly-diagnosed acromegaly patients: a systematic review and meta-analysis using the GRADE system

Whether the preoperative use of somatostatin analogues (SA) improves surgical outcomes in acromegaly is still a matter of debate.

See all (43)

Summaries for consumers

Pituitary Tumors Treatment (PDQ®): Patient Version

Expert-reviewed information summary about the treatment of pituitary tumors.

Terms to know

A general term for conditions that cause inflammation (swelling) of the joints and surrounding tissues. Some forms of arthritis may occur simultaneously with osteoporosis and Paget's disease.
A living, growing tissue made mostly of collagen.
Colon Polyp
An abnormal growth of tissue in the lining of the bowel. Polyps are a risk factor for colon cancer.
Diabetes Mellitus (Diabetes)
A disease in which the body does not control the amount of glucose (a type of sugar) in the blood and the kidneys make a large amount of urine. This disease occurs when the body does not make enough insulin or does not use it the way it should.
Growth Hormone (GH)
Growth hormone helps control body growth and metabolism.
A messenger molecule that helps coordinate the actions of various tissues; made in one part of the body and transported, via the bloodstream, to tissues and organs elsewhere in the body.
Hypertension (High Blood Pressure)
A condition present when blood flows through the blood vessels with a force greater than normal. Also called high blood pressure. Hypertension can strain the heart, damage blood vessels, and increase the risk of heart attack, stroke, kidney problems, and death.
Pituitary Gland
A pea-sized gland at the base of the brain that regulates the body's balance of hormones.

More about Acromegaly

Photo of an adult

Also called: Acromegalia, Anterior pituitary adenoma syndrome, Growth hormone hypersecretion syndrome, Marie disease, STH hypersecretion syndrome

Other terms to know: See all 8
Arthritis, Bone, Colon Polyp

Keep up with systematic reviews on Acromegaly:

Create RSS

PubMed Health Blog...

read all...