Gigantism

A childhood disorder......

What is Gigantism?

Gigantism is a childhood disorder that causes a child to grow much more than his or her peers, developing an unusually large size. They may have enlarged internal organs, such as the heart, kidneys, brain and tongue.This can cause complications, including high blood pressure, severe headaches, sleep apnea, diabetes, diminished vision, and heart failure.

How is Gigantism caused?

Gigantism is caused by an overproduction of growth hormone (GH) that occurs before a child’s bone growth plates have closed. This results in excessive growth and abnormally tall height. People with gigantism generally have very large hands, fingers, toes and heads. They also have changes in related characteristics, including coarse skin, excessive sweat production, and a very deep voice.

What are the symptoms of Gigantism?

Some of the symptoms of Gigantism are:-

  • Excessive growth during childhood.
  • Frontal bossing and a prominent jaw.
  • Thickening of the facial features.
  • Increased perspiration.
  • Secretion of breast milk.
  • Weakness.
  • Disproportionately large hands and feet with thick fingers and toes.
  • Irregular menstruation in females.
  • Headache.
  • Delayed onset of puberty.
  • Difficulty with peripheral vision


What is the treatment?

Surgery is used for 80% of cases where the patient has a well defined tumor in the pituitary gland. Surgery is usually successful in reducing the growth hormone and curing the disease. When surgery is not possible, there are medications to help control the excessive growth hormone secretions. Radiation therapy can be used as a last resort for children with Giantism. Radiation therapy is costly, and the effects of it may not be seen for 5 to 10 years.

Some general facts about it:-

  • About three people in 1 million have Gigantism.
  • 100 cases to date in united states.
  • No racial predilection.
  • Males and females affected equally.
  • Not a genetic disorder.
  • 2 - 3 times higher mortality rate in comparison to general population.