What is a somatotroph adenoma

Somatotroph adenoma is a tumour of the pituitary gland that hyper-secretes growth hormone and causes acromegaly.


What is acromegaly

Acromegaly is a rare disease that results from increased secretion of growth hormone and leads to enlargement of the limbs, skull bones, tissues and organs of the body.


How common are somatotroph adenomas?

The incidence of somatotroph adenomas is 0.34 per 100,000 people and they are the second most common secreting (functioning) adenomas.


What are the symptoms and signs?

Adenomas that hyper-secrete growth hormone can cause:

  • gigantism in children
  • acromegaly syndrome in adults, characterized by:
  • enlarged hands and feet
  • enlarged facial bones
  • enlarged tongue, lower mandible, lips
  • thickening of the nose
  • cardiomegaly
  • hypertension,
  • nephrolithiasis
  • sleep apnoea
  • diabetes mellitus
  • increased risk of colon cancer
  • thyroid nodules

How is acromegaly and the somatotroph adenomas diagnosed?

The diagnosis of acromegaly is usually made by physical examination and confirmed by hormone testing, while imaging reveals the cause of acromegaly. Sometimes specialised endocrine dynamic tests and ophthalmological examination are required. This is followed by a screening of the possible associated co-morbidities.


How is acromegaly treated?

Acromegaly is treated by surgical excision of the adenoma that causes hypersecretion of growth hormone. However, sometimes medication or radiotherapy or a combination of these may be needed and regular monitoring is required.