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November 1, 2022

Acromegaly Awareness Day Is November 1st

by PNI Experts

The acromegaly community worldwide recognizes November 1st as a day to raise awareness about acromegaly, and support those living with the disorder. Discover the signs, symptoms, and treatment options for acromegaly at the Pacific Pituitary Disorders Center at Pacific Neuroscience Institute.

What is acromegaly?

Acromegaly is a disorder in which the pituitary gland, a pea-sized gland located at the base of your brain below your hypothalamus, produces elevated growth hormone (GH), causing the body tissues and bones to grow more quickly.

Known as the “master gland,” the pituitary gland is responsible for regulating many bodily functions, including growth, sexual and reproductive development, blood pressure, metabolism, and many other vital bodily functions.

What causes acromegaly?

In almost all cases, acromegaly is caused by a pituitary ademona, or noncancerous tumor of the pituitary gland caused by mutations in the pituitary cells, or somatotrophs. Pituitary adenomas secrete heightened levels of GH, which affect the function and growth of many different parts of the body.

Although rare, pituitary adenomas can cause serious health problems. They are slow-growing tumors, meaning that they often go undiagnosed for years. Patients that develop acromegaly from a pituitary adenoma may develop chronic health problems, such as diabetes, enlargement of the heart, and colon cancer.

What are the symptoms of acromegaly?

Receiving an accurate diagnosis of acromegaly is important for treatment to prevent long-term health problems and restore quality of life. At the Pacific Pituitary Disorders Center, our multidisciplinary team approach to treating pituitary disorders ensures accurate diagnosis, minimally invasive surgery when indicated, shortened hospital stays, and a low-complication rate.

The most common symptoms of acromegaly include:

  • Headaches
  • Lethargy
  • Blindness
  • Diplopia, or double-vision
  • Goiter, or irregular growth of the thyroid gland
  • Increased facial hair in women
  • Enlargement of visceral organs
  • Broadening of the hands and feet
  • Protruding supraorbital ridges, or forehead protrusion
  • Prognathism, or protrusion of the lower jaw
  • Cardiomyopathy
  • Diabetes
  • Enlarged, but weak, skeletal muscles
  • Thickened feet heel pads
  • Hyperhidrosis, or increased palm sweating
  • Carpel tunnel syndrome
  • Sleep apnea
  • Snoring

Who is at risk of acromegaly?

Acromegaly is most commonly diagnosed in adults aged 30 to 50. However, acromegaly can occur in children. Gigantism, which is most often associated with excess height, can occur in children if acromegaly is not accurately diagnosed before puberty.

What is the treatment for acromegaly?

Treatment for acromegaly at the Pacific Pituitary Disorders Center, is highly successful, with over 75% of patients achieving remission after surgery. Our expert pituitary surgeons are highly-trained in endoscopic endonasal tumor removal, a minimally invasive technique that allows a surgeon to approach the tumor via the nostrils to operate.

For patients that do not achieve remission after the initial surgery, medications and stereotractic radiosurgery, or focused radiation, are recommended treatment options.

About Pacific Pituitary Disorders Center

Pacific Pituitary Disorders Center offers nationally recognized care for patients with persistent and recurrent acromegaly. Our center is staffed by highly qualified and seasoned experts, including internationally-acclaimed neurosurgeon Daniel F. Kelly, MD, who has performed over 2000 endonasal operations for all types of pituitary and related skull base brain tumors.

Our center utilizes high-definition cameras and monitors, 3D surgical navigation, and Doppler probe for real-time carotid artery localization to maximize the effectiveness and safety of the surgery.

Our typical pituitary adenoma operation takes about 3-4 hours and most patients are discharged home in 24-48 hours of surgery. You can be confident of your care in the experienced and capable hands of our multidisciplinary team of pituitary specialists, including neurosurgeons and endocrinologists.

Pacific Pituitary Disorders Center Locations

The Pacific Pituitary Disorders Center’s state-of-the-art facilities are located at:

PNI-Santa Monica
2125 Arizona Ave, Santa Monica, CA 90404

Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center
501 S Buena Vista St, Burbank, CA 90505

About the Author

PNI Experts

Last updated: November 1st, 2022