Acromegaly: symptoms, causes, treatment
Acromegaly is a neuroendocrine disorder, the development of which is due to the excessively intensive production of somatotropin, popularly called growth hormone.In this case, as a rule, only certain parts of the patient's body are enlarged.This pathology is extremely rare and delivers patients a lot of anguish, both physical and psychological.Table of contents: Short description of pathology Causes of acromegaly Symptoms of acromegaly Why is pathology dangerous?How to identify the disease?Methods for the treatment of acromegaly
Short description of the pathology of
Acromegaly develops, as a rule, with tumoral neoplasms localized in the anterior lobe of the pituitary gland responsible for the production of somatotropin.In patients suffering from this pathology, the facial features change( become larger), the brushes and the size of the foot increase.In addition, the pathological process is accompanied by painful articular and headaches, there are abnormalities in the work of the reproductive system.
Important ! Only patients of adult age are affected by this disease, such as acromegaly.Pathology begins to develop at the end of puberty and body growth!
According to statistical data, patients in the age category from 40 to 60 years are the most acromegaly affected. The pathological process is characterized by a gradual, delayed course.In most cases, the disease is diagnosed after 6-7 years from the beginning of its development, which significantly complicates the subsequent treatment.
Physicians identify the following stages of the development of the pathological process of :
- In the first stage, the disease occurs in a latent, latent form, and it is possible to detect changes only when carrying out a computerized tomography of the brain.
- At this stage, the symptomatology, characteristic of pathology, is particularly pronounced.
- In the third stage, there is an increase in the tumor neoplasm located in the anterior lobe of the pituitary gland.At the same time, neighboring brain regions are squeezed, which causes the manifestation of specific signs, such as visual impairment, nervous disorders, increased intracranial pressure.
- The last fourth stage of acromegaly is characterized by the development of cachexia and complete exhaustion of the patient's body.
Increased concentration of growth hormone promotes the development of cardiovascular, pulmonary and oncological diseases, which often cause the death of patients suffering from acromegaly.
Causes of acromegaly
The following factors can cause disorders in the normal functioning of the hypothalamus, and hence the development of acromegaly, according to the doctors:
- traumatic brain injury;
- mental disorders;
- complicated pregnancy and intrauterine developmental pathologies;
- transferred infectious or viral diseases;
- the presence of tumoral neoplasms of benign or malignant origin, affecting the work of the nervous system;
- disorders in the endocrine system;
- Hypersensitivity to growth hormone;
- pathological processes of secretion of this hormone in the field of internal organs;
- traumatic lesions of the central nervous system;
- hereditary predisposition;
- pituitary adenoma;
- cystic neoplasms localized in the region of the brain.
Note: According to physicians, the patient's sex also affects the likelihood of developing acromegaly.To the greatest degree of this pathology are exposed to the fair sex.
Symptoms of acromegaly
As a rule, the symptoms of acromegaly appear in the second stage of the course of the pathological process.The signs of this disease are quite specific, and therefore it is difficult not to notice them.
In most cases, patients with acromegaly exhibit the following clinical symptoms of :
- increasing the size of the arms and legs;
- thickening of the lips;
- fat content and thickening of the skin;
- change of voice( as a result of thickening of the vocal cords, it becomes lower and coarse);
- forward extension of the jaw;
- increased nose;
- increased blood pressure;
- muscle weakness;
- enlargement of internal organs;
- decreased articular mobility;
- excessive sweating;
- body temperature changes;
- frequent urge to urinate;
- increased fatigue;
- depressive states;
- drowsiness during the day;
- heart pain;
- disorders of visual, auditory and olfactory function;
- fear of bright light;
- numbness of hands and feet;Periodic attacks of vomiting.
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Note: Almost all patients with diagnosed acromegaly exhibit signs characteristic of diabetes, which is associated with endocrine disorders.
In addition, in patients with acromegaly, the structure of the skeleton changes, intercostal spaces increase, the spinal column curves, and the thorax becomes noticeably larger and wider.
The representatives of the fair sex have violations of the menstrual cycle and a decrease in sexual desire, possibly the onset of an early menopause.In men suffering from this disease, erectile dysfunction occurs, impotence develops. The reproductive system with acromegaly is seriously affected, therefore, as a rule, people with this diagnosis have problems with natural conception.
What is dangerous pathology?
In addition to the fact that acromegaly itself spoils the appearance of the patient and significantly reduces the quality of his life, in the absence of proper treatment, this pathology can also provoke the development of extremely dangerous complications.
In most cases, a prolonged course of acromegaly leads to the appearance of the following comorbidities:
- disorders in the functioning of the gastrointestinal tract;
- nerve disorders;
- pathology of the endocrine system;
- adrenal hyperplasia;
- intestinal polyps;
- arthritis and arthrosis;
- ischemic disease;
- heart failure;
- arterial hypertension.
Note: Almost half of patients with acromegaly suffer from complications such as diabetes mellitus.
Visual and auditory functions that are specific to this pathology can cause complete deafness and blindness of the patient.And these changes will be irreversible!
Acromegaly significantly increases the risk of tumor malignant neoplasms, as well as various pathologies of internal organs. Another life-threatening complication of acromegaly is a respiratory arrest syndrome, which mainly occurs in a state of sleep.
That's why the patient who wants to save his life, with the appearance of the first signs indicating acromegaly, should seek professional help from a qualified specialist - an endocrinologist!
How to identify the disease?
In most cases, a specialist may suspect the presence of acromegaly already according to the appearance of the patient, the characteristic symptoms and the analysis of the collected anamnesis. However, in order to establish an accurate diagnosis, determine the stage of the pathological process and the extent of internal organs damage, the patients are assigned the following diagnostic tests:
- biochemical analysis for the detection of hormone levels of somatotropin;
- magnetic resonance imaging of the brain;
- computed tomography;
- Radiographic examination of the skull.
Important ! The main method of diagnosis is the analysis of growth hormone using glucose.If the pituitary gland functions normally, glucose helps to lower the indices of somatotropin, otherwise the level of the hormone, on the contrary, grows.
To determine the concomitant complications provoked by the development of acromegaly, such additional diagnostic measures are carried out:
- laboratory blood test for sugar;
- ultrasound examination of internal organs.
After carrying out complex diagnostics, a specialist can not only make an accurate diagnosis, but also identify the presence of concomitant diseases, which allows you to assign the most complete and adequate for a particular case therapeutic course!
Methods for the treatment of acromegaly
The main task of physicians in the diagnosis of acromegaly is to achieve a stable remission, as well as normalize the production of somatotropin.
For these purposes, the following methods can be used:
- reception of medications;
- Radiation therapy;
- surgical treatment.
Important ! In most cases, the effective control of this disease requires complex combination therapy .
To suppress excessively intensive production of growth hormone, patients are prescribed a course of hormone therapy using artificial somatostatin analogues. Often patients are prescribed and a drug such as Bromocriptine, directed to the production of dopamine, which suppresses the synthesis of hormone growth hormone.
In the presence of characteristic complications and concomitant diseases, appropriate symptomatic treatment is carried out, the scheme of which is developed for each patient individually.
The use of radiation therapy has shown good results.This procedure is an effect on the damaged area of the pituitary gland by specific gamma rays.According to statistical data and clinical studies, the effectiveness of this technique is about 80%!
One of the most modern ways of conservative struggle with acromegaly is X-ray therapy .According to experts, the effect of X-ray waves contributes to the active suppression of tumor growth and the production of somatotropin.A full course of X-ray therapy allows to achieve stabilization of the patient's condition and elimination of characteristic for acromegaly symptoms, even facial features of the patient are somewhat thinned!
Surgical methods for the treatment of acromegaly
Surgical intervention in acromegaly is indicated with significant tumor tumor size, rapid progression of the pathological process, and in the absence of efficacy of conservative therapy.
Important !Surgery is one of the most effective methods of fighting acromegaly.According to statistical data, 30% of operated patients completely recovered from diseases, and 70% of patients have a persistent, prolonged remission!
Surgical intervention in acromegaly is an operation aimed at removal of the pituitary tumor neoplasm.In particularly difficult cases, it may be necessary to undergo a second operation or an additional course of drug therapy.
How to prevent pathology?
In order to prevent the development of acromegaly, physicians are advised to adhere to the following recommendations.
- to avoid traumatic head injuries;
- timely treat infections of an infectious nature;
- consult a doctor for metabolic disorders;
- carefully treat diseases that damage the respiratory system;
- periodically take tests for indicators of somatotropin for preventive purposes.
Acromegaly is a rare and dangerous disease, fraught with a number of complications.However, timely diagnosis and competent, adequate treatment allows you to achieve a stable remission and return the patient to a full, familiar life!
Elena Sovinskaya, medical reviewer