What is gigantism?

Gigantism is a rare clinical condition of oversecretion of growth hormone from the pituitary gland – somatotropin.

Oversecretion of this hormone during childhood causes abnormal growth of long bones, whose cartilaginous ends become calcified by the age of 20. This results in overgrowth of the entire body and abnormally tall stature.

What are the causes of gigantism?

Oversecretion of the hormone somatotropin, which causes gigantism, is most often the result of benign tumors of the pituitary gland. This is the most common cause of this clinical condition.

Benign growths put pressure on the gland, which stimulates somatic overproduction. Most cases of pituitary gigantism are isolated.

In very rare cases, certain hereditary or genetic syndromes can cause overproduction of somatotropin and the associated gigantism such as:

  • Multiple endocrine hyperplasia type 1 – causes the appearance of tumors in the endocrine glands and causes their hyperreactivity;
  • Weaver syndrome;< /li>
  • Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome;
  • Neurofibromatosis – a disease that leads to the formation and growth of tumors.

The disease is treatable. But if left untreated, it can lead to various complications such as various cardiovascular diseases, abnormal height, delayed puberty and vision problems.

Get medical help right away if you notice any unusual changes in your child’s appearance, such as excessive growth in height or unusual enlargement of the face, arms or legs.

What are the symptoms?

One of the main symptoms of gigantism is abnormal enlargement of the hands, fingers and toes, head or even the tongue.

This excessive growth activity can lead to a discrepancy between the length of the bones and their width, which often leads to abnormalities in the structure of the skeleton. Patients with gigantism appear much taller for their age than the average for age.

Additional symptoms associated with gigantism include severe headaches due to the pressure exerted by the enlarged tissues and bones in the eye area.

Patients may also experience irregular menstrual cycles in girls and delayed onset of puberty, which may be related to sex hormone deficiency due to accumulation of somatotropin.

Obesity can also be the consequence of gigantism. This may be due to metabolic disturbances due to the presence of high levels of growth hormone. Accordingly, excessive body mass can lead to various health problems and complications.

Galactorrhea, which is the discharge of breast milk in girls, is another symptom that can be associated with gigantism.

This is due to disturbances in the regulation of hormones that control lactation. An abnormally large jaw, high forehead, and coarse facial features are common features seen in patients with gigantism.

In addition to these symptoms, gigantism can also cause visual disturbances. Patients with this condition often report vision problems such as double vision and disturbances in peripheral vision.

These symptoms are due to the increase in size of the orbital bone and the pressure it puts on the optic nerve.

There are other symptoms that are not always obvious, such as weakness and numbness in the arms and legs.

This discomfort in the tops of the toes and feet is due to enlarged tissues and bony growths that can compress nerves and affect their functionality.

It should be noted that gigantism is a medical condition that requires serious attention and diagnosis by a qualified physician.

Treatment usually involves surgical procedures to reduce the size of the pituitary gland and normalize hormone production.

After this process, patients often require additional medical care to deal with the anatomical and functional changes that have already occurred in their body.

Treatment of gigantism

Treatment usually consists of a combination of methods to reduce or regulate the pituitary gland’s release of the growth hormone – somatotropin.

The exact treatment scheme is determined depending on the main cause of the oversecretion of the somatotropin hormone.

Medicine treatment

Medications can be used to normalize the secretion of somatotropin, block its action or to limit excessive growth in height. The drugs that are most often applied are:

  • Dopamine antagonists such as bromocriptine mesylate and cabergoline, which as antagonists limit the secretion of somatotropin and pegvisomant, which blocks its action.
  • Depending on gender, hormonal testosterone or estrogen therapy, which can inhibit growth of long bones.
  • Somatostatin analogues such as long-acting octreodes and lanreodites also inhibit growth hormone.

Other ways of treatment

Through radiation therapy, in which ionizing radiation is directed to the pituitary gland, the secretion of somatotropin can be regulated. But this method is among the less desirable treatment options because of its limited effectiveness and side effects that include obesity, emotional and cognitive impairment.

Surgical intervention to remove the tumor from the pituitary gland is used only in limited cases and only when the formation is malignant or too large and causes discomfort to the patient.< /p>

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