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acromegaly(ăk'rōmĕg`əlē), adult endocrine disorder resulting from hypersecretion of growth hormone produced by the pituitary gland. Since the bones cannot increase in length after full growth is attained, there is a disproportionate thickening of bones, predominantly in the skull and small bones of the hands and feet. Fingers and toes become broadened and spadelike, the skull increases in size, and the cheek bones and jaws protrude. Many of the soft tissues, such as the tongue and liver, enlarge. Frequently glucose metabolism is disturbed, leading to diabetes mellitus. Acromegaly is usually caused by a tumor of the pituitary; treatment consists of irradiation or surgical removal of the tumor. Onset of the disease can also occur in children, before the epiphyses of the bones are closed. In such cases the disorder leads to gigantismgigantism,
condition in which an animal or plant is far greater than normal in size. Plants are often deliberately bred to increase their size. However, among animals, gigantism is usually the result of hereditary and glandular disturbance.
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a disease associated with disruption of the functioning of the anterior lobe of the hypothesis (adenohypophysis); it is accompanied by enlargement (broadening and thickening) of the wrists, feet, skull (especially the facial portion), and other parts. Acromegaly usually appears following maturation; its development is gradual, extending over many years. It is the result of excessive production of somatotropin. Analogous disruption of hypophysis activity in immature individuals is called gigantism. Acromegaly is accompanied by cephalalgia, fatigability, weakening of intellectual capacity, visual disorders, and frequently sexual impotence in men and amenorrhea in women. Its treatment consists of surgery of the hypophysis or roentgenotherapy.
REFERENCESBaranov, V. G. Bolezni endokrinnoi sistemy i obmena veshchestv, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1955.
Rukovodstvo po klinicheskoi endokrinologii. Edited by E. A. Vasiukova. Moscow, 1958.