Acromegaly (Encyclopedia of Genetic Disorders)
Acromegaly is a rare condition caused by abnormally high amounts of human growth hormone (HGH). An organ in the brain known as the pituitary gland, normally secretes this growth hormone. Normal amounts of HGH are needed for normal growth and physical maturity in children. However, in acromegaly, there is an increased amount of HGH released, generally by a tumor that forms in the pituitary. Untreated, acromegaly can lead to numerous disabling conditions, as well as a significantly decreased life span.
Acromegaly was first described in scientific detail by the French physician, Pierre Marie. In 1886, Dr. Marie, along with his assistant, Souza-Leite, described in detail 48 patients with acromegaly. These patients all exhibited a rapid growth in their height; significantly enlarged hands and feet; change in appearance of their faces; frequent headaches; and a high incidence of visual problems. Dr. Marie believed all of these problems were due to a defect in the patients' pituitary gland, a small glandular structure located in the middle of the brain.
While Dr. Marie was the first to formally state that a problem in the pituitary gland was responsible for the condition of acromegaly, the link between pituitary...
(The entire section is 2394 words.)
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