Acromegaly is a rare syndrome in which there is unregulated hypersecretion of growth hormone. The anesthetic management of patients with this disorder is particularly challenging due to pre-existing cardiovascular and respiratory dysfunction, as well as recognized difficulties with airway management. Because of the insidious progression of the disease and the presence of nonspecific signs and symptoms, diagnosis is often made late when characteristic acromegalic features become apparent.
We report the management of a 35-year-old African American man with previously undiagnosed acromegaly, who underwent a general anesthetic for same day surgery. Subtle physical features and difficult endotracheal intubation raised our suspicion for the diagnosis of acromegaly. Following an uncomplicated postoperative course he underwent workup for the disease, which was confirmed. In addition, brain magnetic resonance imaging showed a pituitary adenoma. A subsequent transsphenoidal hypophysectomy was performed successfully.
This case underscores the notable absence of recognizing the clinical presentation of acromegaly in this patient by his primary care physician, and the value of thorough history taking, vigilance, and observation in making a new diagnosis that has the potential to alter a patient's health care and mitigate impending morbidity and/or mortality.