About the disease
Pituitary dwarfism is a growth disorder caused by the malfunction of one of the pituitary hormones, known as the somatotrope or growth hormone. This malfunction may occur as a result of a congenital disorder, genetic mutations or an acquired trauma, such as brain surgery or a tumor. As well as controlling growth, the pituitary gland regulates blood pressure and the metabolism.
According to Doctor Tipster.com, although this condition starts in childhood, it usually becomes apparent during puberty. Individuals with pituitary dwarfism are generally much shorter than other people and their growth is either very slow or has stopped altogether. This condition can cause serious problems if it occurs before the ossification process when bone tissue forms.
There are two main types of pituitary dwarfism. The first type is characterized by the malfunction of the individual’s entire endocrine system, causing abnormal secretion of the pituitary hormones. They will show signs of slow physical development and will be less likely to reach sexual maturity. The second type of pituitary dwarfism is less severe, affecting only the individual’s growth. They will be able to reach sexual maturity and their ability to have children will be unaffected.
- Delayed or interrupted growth of bones
- Lower stature than normal
- Slow growth rate compared to other children
- Accumulation of fat, very often around the waist
- Delayed or interrupted growth of muscles
- During a general examination, the doctor will determine whether or not the child is growing at a normal rate. This will be monitored over a period of time, using a universal growth chart. Children with pituitary dwarfism are generally 20-25% smaller than the normal size for a child of their age.
- The doctor will also ask the child’s parent’s if anyone else in the family has pituitary dwarfism.
- Hormonal testing can confirm the diagnosis.
- Imaging tests, such as MRI and CT scans, can rule out the possibility of tumors in the pituitary gland.
- Conservative treatment, such as hormone replacement therapy, can regulate the child’s growth development.
- It is important that the child starts taking hormone replacement therapy before the ossification of bone cartilage begins.
- There are also surgical procedures that can help to guide the direction that bones grow in, as well as limb lengthening techniques.