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Marie's disease

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A rare chronic condition, usually caused by an adenoma. It is characterized by hyperfunction of the anterior pituitary gland associated with hypersecretion of growth hormone, resulting in enlargement of bones and soft tissue of hands, feet, and face. Affected persons show prominent cheek bones; frontal bossing; grossly overdeveloped mandible and broadening of the hands, fingers, and feet; large ears and nose, and thick lips. Associeted manifestations may be sexual disorders, diabetes mellitus, hemianopsia, and increased intracranial pressure. The term gigantism refers to the childhood form of this disease. Onset usually between 30 and 40 years of age. Hereditary factors are unusual.

Many descriptions preceded those of Marie (1886) who first correlated the clinical and pathological findings.

Probably first described in 1801 by Nicolas Saucerotte (1741-1814), described in 1883 by Friedrich Daniel von Recklinghausen (1833-1910), in 1884 by Chr. F. Fritsche and Theodor Albrecht Edwin Klebs (1834-1913); Pierre Marie in 1886.


  • Nicolas Saucerotte:
    Mélanges de chirurgie. 2 volumes; Paris, 1801. His description is in volume 1, page 477 seq: Obsérvation communiquée à l’ académie de chirurgie en 1772.
  • F. D. von Recklinghausen:
    In: Handbuch der allgemeinen Pathologie des Kresilaufes und der Ernährung.
    Theodor Billroth and Georg Albert Luecke, Deutsche Chirurgie, Lfg. 2, 3, Stuttgart, 1883.
  • P. Marie:
    Sur deux cas d’acromégalie: hypertrophie singulière non congénitale des extrémités supérieures, inférieures et céphalique.
    Rev méd, 1886, 6: 297-333.
  • P. Marie, in R. H. Major:
    Classic Descriptions of Diseaes.
    2nd edition; Springfield, Illinois, C. C. Thomas. 1939.

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