The clinical presentation and biochemical diagnosis of acromegaly and gigantism

I. Jialal, B. C. Nathoo, S. M. Joubert, A. C. Asmal, N. L. Pillay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Over a 5-year period 14 patients with acromegaly and gigantism were seen at the endocrine clinic of King Edward VIII Hospital: 9 were Blacks and 5 Indians; 8 of the patients were women. The mean age of the patients was 46 years. Surprisingly, only 2 patients complained of acral overgrowth. Symptomatology was varied and not characteristic of the condition. On examination all patients had unequivocal signs of soft-tissue and bony overgrowth, 64% had visual abnormalities and 50% hypertension. Radiologically, 88% showed an enlarged pituitary fossa. On biochemical investigation, the fasting levels of growth hormone (GH) were increased in 12 patients and during oral glucose tolerance tests, the GH levels in these 12 patients were not suppressed. One patient in whom the fasting GH level was not increased had progressed to the stage of panhypopituitarism; in the remaining patient challenge with thyrotrophin-releasing hormone (TRH) led to increased GH levels and L-dopa challenge resulted in a paradoxical decrease in GH levels. Seven patients with increased GH levels who were challenged with L-dopa showed the typical decrease in Gh levels found in this condition; in 5 of these patients, challenged with TRH, GH levels increased. The findings emphasize that despite the ease of clinical diagnosis, appropriate biochemical investigations are necessary to confirm the exact status of the disease, which is rare in the population studied.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)617-620
Number of pages4
JournalSouth African Medical Journal
Issue number17
StatePublished - 1982
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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