Acromegaly and ultrasound: how, when and why?

  • M. ParolinEmail author
  • F. Dassie
  • R. Vettor
  • P. Maffei



Acromegaly is a rare disease caused by an excess of growth hormone and insulin-like growth factor 1. It is usually diagnosed because of typical signs such as macroglossia, acral enlargement, jaw prognathism and malocclusion. Systemic complications are a major cause of morbidity and mortality in acromegaly, and many patients remain undiagnosed for several years. Increased ultrasound (US) application in the general population, and including among acromegaly patients, has revealed many suggestive features which, taken together with clinical suspicion, could induce suspicion of this disease.


This review describes main US features in acromegaly. Echocardiography shows a typical cardiomyopathy, characterized by left ventricular hypertrophy, diastolic and systolic dysfunction, aortic and mitral regurgitation, and increased aortic root diameters. US preclinical markers of atherosclerosis, such as intima media thickness (IMT), seem also to be impaired. Visceromegaly and increased organ stiffness are other features of acromegaly, including enlarged prostate, kidneys, liver, and thyroid. In addition, other US findings are: renal cysts, micronephrolithiasis, impairment of renal haemodynamic parameters, gallstones and gallbladder polyps, hepatic steatosis, thyroid nodules, multinodular goiter, and polycystic ovaries. Musculoskeletal US findings are increased cartilage thickness, impaired density and elasticity of bones, nerve enlargement, carpal and cubital tunnel syndrome, and trigger finger.


Acromegaly patients frequently present systemic complications and a diagnostic delay. US features of acromegaly are not specific, but could potentially have a key role in early detection of the disease in the presence of typical clinical features.


Acromegaly Ultrasound Doppler Complications Visceromegaly 





Growth hormone


Insulin-like growth factor


Acromegaly patients


Left ventricular hypertrophy


Carotid intima media thickness


Pulse wave velocity


Flow-mediated dilation


Renal resistive index


Polycystic ovary syndrome


Cats with acromegaly



We thank Giulia Maddalena, MD for her contribution to Fig. 1 and Dr. Marino Parolin, DVM for his contributions to the paragraphs concerning feline acromegaly. Editorial assistance for the preparation of this manuscript was provided by Alexandra Wennberg, Ph.D.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

On behalf of all the authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.

Informed consent

No informed consent.


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© Italian Society of Endocrinology (SIE) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Clinica Medica 3, Department of Medicine (DIMED)University of PaduaPaduaItaly

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