Monday, August 1, 2011

Faces of Acromegaly

There was a study published recently about how a computer can be better than a doctor at diagnosing acromegaly (Early diagnosis of acromegaly: computers vs clinician, PDF) based on photos of acromegaly patients.  I thought that study was really exciting, because it means that potentially one day, anyone with a webcam can be diagnosed!  Of course, the system is not perfect yet, but if it helps encourage people who suspect acromegaly to get a blood test and/or MRI, that means their diagnosis and potential for a cure is that much closer. On the second page of the report, there is a photo of a pair of twins, one who has acromegaly and one who does not, which I thought was fascinating.  There's lots of really interesting info about acromegaly in general, such as, "As the prevalence of a disease in a population rises, the outcome of screening becomes more successful. In the last few years, the presumed prevalence of acromegaly has risen from about 50 per million subjects to 106, 124 and 1034 per million in three separate investigations."  The article is well written and surprisingly easy to read, even for those without a medical/computer science background so give it a look.

The New York Times published an article about faces last week, which briefly mentioned acromegaly as one of the diseases that can be diagnosed by looking at the face: "... a very broad forehead and large nose may signal acromegaly, a dangerous condition caused by too much growth hormone."  I wish they also mentioned jaw enlargement, but I'm glad it was mentioned at all.  Hopefully the article will still help raise awareness of the disease, and someone can get diagnosed earlier.  I wonder if plastic surgeons know about acromegaly, and they refer their patients to an endocrinologist before going ahead with performing their nose jobs/botox or whatever.

1 comment:

Starbucks Addict said...

Very interesting! Early detection is key.