Difference Between Acromegaly and Gigantism (With Table)

Growth hormone is a hormone that regulates metabolism and drives somatic growth. Gigantism and Acromegaly are two diseases with exact mechanisms and comparable symptoms. While the disease process is the same in all of them, the outcome is vastly different according to age. These are conditions caused by excessive growth hormone release.

Acromegaly vs Gigantism

The main difference between Acromegaly and Gigantism is that Acromegaly is a hormonal disorder in which our pituitary gland produces abnormal growth hormones during adulthood. But, having too many hormones leads to an increase in size. During childhood, this causes an increase in heights known as Gigantism. In adulthood, Acromegaly is a condition in which the growth of your bones increases only in your hands, feet, and face.

Acromegaly is a rare condition in which your body produces too much growth hormone (GH). GH is a hormone that regulates the body’s physical growth and is produced mainly in the pituitary gland. When this hormone is overproduced in adults, it causes bones, cartilage, bodily organs, and other tissues to grow in size. Enlarged or bloated noses, ears, hands, and feet are all common alterations in appearance.

The condition of Gigantism will show abnormal growth and development of children. Mainly height and girth may be affected badly. It can overstate the height and apparent factors of the child. This rare condition is the result of excessive GH secretion of the pituitary gland present in the brain. One cannot exaggerate the importance of early detection. The direction of growth may lead to a larger body of the victim, or the reverse is also possible. 

Comparison Between Acromegaly and Gigantism

Parameters of ComparisonAcromegalyGigantism
CausesAcromegaly can be caused when: the pituitary gland releases too much GH into the body over a lengthy period. GH gets into the blood and provokes insulin production from the liver gland. This growth factor is an essential element for controlling the bone and tissue growth of the body.This disorder spurs abnormal growth in the tissues of the bone. The pituitary gland produces significantly more growth hormone than the body needs when a tumor forms on it.
SymptomsIn Acromegaly, your hands and feet swell and become larger. One can easily notice changes in ring size or shoe size. Hands and feet swell and become large.In Gigantism, children may have a flat nose, large head, tongue, and lips. Adults have a prominent jaw and forehead. Coarse facial features are also noticed often. 
TreatmentIn Acromegaly, Radiation, Surgery, and Medication is considered the best treatment tools.Surgery, Medication, and Gamma Knife Radiosurgery are the trusted treatment of Gigantism.
Mostly effective Acromegaly starts after puberty and can happen at any point of time. Mostly occurs in middle age.Gigantism mainly occurs in Children. It is a rare condition that happens in childhood.
DiagnosisAcromegaly can be diagnosed through blood and imagining tests.Gigantism can be diagnosed through a blood test to have accuracy on the level of growth hormones. 

What is Acromegaly?

Excess growth hormone (GH) after the growth plates have closed causes a condition known as Acromegaly. Enlargement of the hands and feet is usually the first indication. Excessive growth of the forehead, jaw, and nose may also occur. Other signs and symptoms include joint pain, thicker skin, a deeper voice, headaches, and visual issues. High blood pressure and type-2 diabetes are all possible complications of the condition.

The condition of Acromegaly is an unusual physical transformation; it might take a long time to recognize the condition. High levels of growth hormone, if left untreated, can harm your bones and other parts of your body. This can result in earnest — and occasionally life-threatening — health issues. On the other hand, treatment can lower your problems and considerably improve your symptoms, including facial expansion.

Acromegaly can also lead to facial changes in shapes; different elements of the face get disfigured like the nose, lips, teeth, jaws, etc. Earlier, the progression of this disease takes time, so it is difficult to spot the presence of Acromegaly. When significant changes start to the individual, the disease might be at a higher risk stage. 

What Is Gigantism?

Gigantism, often known as giantism, is a condition in which a person’s growth and height are far above average. Overproduction of growth hormone in childhood causes this syndrome in humans, resulting in adults ranging in height from 7 to 9 feet. It’s a rare condition that happens after puberty. High growth hormone levels cause it before the fusion of the growth plate.

The most primary trigger of this rise is aberrant tumor growth on the pituitary gland. Acromegaly, an adult variant of the condition characterized by somatic expansion, particularly in the limbs and face, should not be confused with Gigantism. It’s been not easy to pinpoint a precise genetic reason for Gigantism. Growth hormone hypersecretion syndromes, including Gigantism, are a set of conditions that are still poorly understood.

According to St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center, surgery can cure 80 percent of instances of Gigantism caused by the most prevalent form of pituitary tumor. Medications can be used to lessen your child’s symptoms and allow them to live a long and full life if the tumor returns or if surgery is not safe to attempt.

Main Difference Between Acromegaly and Gigantism

  1. Acromegaly is Growth hormone secretion that begins to increase with age. Gigantism can develop at any age until the epiphysis fuses at puberty. Gigantism is a condition in which the growth hormone is overproduced throughout childhood.
  2. Acromegaly is the result of the disease process that begins with puberty. It is more common than Gigantism. Because of the limited minority of cases, the mortality rates of Gigantism in children are unexplained. 
  3. As the illness begins in adulthood, an individual with Acromegaly does not show symptoms of height change. The number of people with Gigantism is already rising in children.
  4.  The gonads do not cause Acromegaly because the person is an adult when the condition starts, whereas Gigantism affects the gonads because the person is young.
  5. Acromegaly is common these days, but Gigantism is not very common.

Conclusion

The two diseases are not very dangerous, but it will always be advisable to get them treated as soon as possible. Gigantism occurs mainly in children, so parents need to observe their toddlers. Surgical excision of the tumor is the primary line of treatment; however, this hardly results in a cure, necessitating additional medical treatment with somatostatin analogs or radiation. If the level of disease increases, surgery is the only option left. The medicines and possible procedures to remove a tumor will treat all problems.

References

  1. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/humu.23121
  2. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1365-2265.1994.tb03789.x