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Growth and metabolic disorder in which the skeletal extremities enlarge when a pituitary gland tumor causes overproduction of growth hormone after maturity. It is often associated with pituitary gigantism. Acromegaly is characterized by gradual enlargement of hands and feet, exaggeration of facial features, skin thickening, and enlargement of most internal organs, along with headaches, excessive sweating, and high blood pressure. Acromegalic individuals are likely to develop congestive heart failure, muscle weakness, joint pain, osteoporosis, and often diabetes mellitus and visual problems, including blindness. If treatment with surgery and/or radiation fails, then hormone therapy is used. Treatment can cause hormone deficiency, necessitating hormone replacement therapy; spontaneous events may also cause hormone deficiency.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on acromegaly, visit Britannica.com.