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Endocrine glands
Endocrine glands


Gigantism

Definition:

Gigantism is abnormal growth due to an excess of growth hormone during childhood.



Alternative Names:

Giantism; Pituitary giant



Causes:

The most common cause of too much growth hormone release is a noncancerous (benign) tumor of the pituitary gland. Other causes include:

If excess growth hormone occurs after normal bone growth has stopped, the condition is known as acromegaly .

Gigantism is very rare.



Symptoms:

The child will grow in height, as well as in the muscles and organs. This excessive growth makes the child extremely large for his or her age.

Other symptoms include:

  • Delayed puberty
  • Double vision or difficulty with side (peripheral) vision
  • Frontal bossing and a prominent jaw
  • Gaps between the teeth
  • Headache
  • Increased sweating
  • Irregular periods (menstruation)
  • Large hands and feet with thick fingers and toes
  • Release of breast milk
  • Sleep problems
  • Thickening of the facial features
  • Weakness


Exams and Tests:

The doctor will perform a physical exam and ask about the child's symptoms.

Laboratory tests that may be ordered include:

Imaging tests, such as CT or MRI scan of the head, also may be ordered to check for a pituitary tumor .



Treatment:

For pituitary tumors with well-defined borders, surgery can cure many cases.

When surgery cannot completely remove the tumor, medicines are used to block or reduce growth hormone release.



Outlook (Prognosis):

Pituitary surgery is usually successful in limiting growth hormone production.

Early treatment can reverse many of the changes caused by growth hormone excess.



Possible Complications:

Surgery may lead to low levels of other pituitary hormones, which can cause:



When to Contact a Medical Professional:

Call your health care provider if your child has signs of excessive growth.



References:

Melmed S, Kleinberg D. Pituitary masses and tumors. In: Melmed S, Polonsky KS, Larsen PR, Kronenberg HM, eds. Williams Textbook of Endocrinology. 12th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier Saunders; 2011: chap 9.




Review Date: 11/7/2013
Reviewed By: Brent Wisse, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine, Division of Metabolism, Endocrinology & Nutrition, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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Atlantic Medical Group
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Morristown Medical Center

100 Madison Avenue
Morristown, NJ 07960
973-971-5000

Overlook Medical Center

99 Beauvoir Avenue
Summit, NJ 07901
908-522-2000

Newton Medical Center

175 High Street
Newton, NJ 07860
973-383-2121

Chilton Medical Center

97 West Parkway
Pompton Plains, NJ 07444
973-831-5000

Goryeb Children's Hospital

100 Madison Avenue
Morristown, NJ 07960
973-971-5000

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Atlantic Medical Group

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