Growth Hormone Deficiency in Adults Guidelines

Updated: Mar 06, 2018
  • Author: Mohsen S Eledrisi, MD, FACP, FACE; Chief Editor: George T Griffing, MD  more...
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Guidelines Summary

The Endocrine Society has published a Clinical Practice Guideline on the evaluation and treatment of adult growth hormone deficiency that includes the following recommendations [6] :

  • Patients with childhood-onset GHD who are candidates for GH therapy after adult height achievement should be retested for GHD unless they have known mutations, embryopathic lesions causing multiple hormone deficits, or irreversible structural lesions/damage.
  • Adult patients with structural hypothalamic/pituitary disease, surgery or irradiation in these areas, head trauma, or evidence of other pituitary hormone deficiencies should be considered for evaluation for acquired GHD.
  • Because idiopathic GHD in adults is very rare, stringent criteria are necessary to make this diagnosis, and in the absence of suggestive clinical circumstances there is a significant false-positive error rate in the response to a single GH stimulation test, it is suggested that 2 tests be used before making this diagnosis. The presence of a low IGF-I also increases the likelihood that this diagnosis is correct.
  • The insulin tolerance test (ITT) and the GHRH-arginine test have sufficient sensitivity and specificity to establish the diagnosis of GHD, but in those with clearly established, recent (within 10 yr) hypothalamic causes of suspected GHD (eg, irradiation), testing with GHRH-arginine may be misleading.
  • When GHRH is not available and performance of an ITT is either contraindicated or not practical in a given patient, the glucagon stimulation test can be used to diagnose GHD.
  • Because of the irreversible nature of the cause of the GHD in children with structural lesions with multiple hormone deficiencies and those with proven genetic causes, a low IGF-I level at least 1 month off GH therapy is sufficient documentation of persistent GHD without additional provocative testing.
  • A normal IGF-I level does not exclude the diagnosis of GHD but makes provocative testing mandatory to make the diagnosis of GHD. However, a low IGF-I level, in the absence of catabolic conditions such as poorly controlled diabetes, liver disease, and oral estrogen therapy, is strong evidence for significant GHD and may be useful in identifying patients who may benefit from treatment and therefore require GH stimulation testing.
  • The presence of deficiencies in 3 or more pituitary axes strongly suggests the presence of GHD, and in this context provocative testing is optional.
  • GH dosing regimens should be individualized rather than weight-based and started with low doses and be titrated according to clinical response, side effects, and IGF-I levels.
  • During GH treatment, patients should be monitored at 1- to 2-mo intervals during dose titration and semiannually thereafter with a clinical assessment and an evaluation for adverse effects, IGF-I levels, and other parameters of GH response.