Acromegaly is a hormonal disorder that most commonly occurs in middle-aged men and women. This causes various symptoms which slowly develop over several years. In most cases it is the result of a tumor developing within the gland. In over 99 in 100 cases, the excess hormone comes from a small tumour (growth) in the pituitary gland. This is a benign (non-cancerous) growth called a pituitary adenoma. The adenoma may grow up to 1-2 cm across. The changes caused by this growth hormone excess are not noticeable straight away, but will vastly change the person's appearance after a number of years. Treatment options include surgery to remove the tumour and medicines to block the release or effects of growth hormone.
Acromegaly is rare. About 3 or 4 people in a million develop acromegaly each year in the UK. It mainly first develops in adults between the ages of 25-40. Men and women are equally affected.
According to Medilexicon's medical dictionary acromegaly is:
"A disorder marked by progressive enlargement of peripheral parts of the body, especially the head, face, hands, and feet, resulting from excessive secretion of somatotropin; organomegaly and metabolic disorders occur; diabetes mellitus may develop."
A person suffering acromegaly will experience a change in their physical appearance and other characteristics. These may include:
- a large jaw
- gaps between the teeth
- a more prominent brow
- the soft spot of their skull appears expanded
- hands shaped like spades
- a lack of sensation and tingling in hands and feet
- rough and oily skin
- skin tags
- heavy sweating
- large tongue
- deeper voice
- impaired vision
- large feet
- swelling of internal organs (particularly the heart)
Nursing Diagnosis for Acromegaly
1. Disturbed body image
related to : enlargement of body parts as manifested by enlarged hands, feet and jaw.
2. Ineffective coping
related to : change in appearance as manifested by verbalization of negative feeling about the change in appearance.
3. Disturbed sensory perception
related to : enlarged pituitary gland as manifested by protrusion of eye balls.
4. Disturbed sleeping pattern
related to : soft tissue swelling as manifested by verbalization of the patient about insomnia.
5. Fluid volume deficit
related to : polyuria as manifested by excessive thirst of the patient.
related to : change in appearance and treatment as manifested by verbalization of the patient about body appearance.
7. Knowledge deficit : regarding development of disease and treatment as manifested by repeated questions by the patient regarding disease and treatment.