Growth Hormone Day Curve

I went into hospital today for a “Growth Hormone Day Curve”. In this topic I’m going to answer some questions that I had before I first went. My fist day curve was three months ago.

What’s it for?

A Growth Hormone Day Curve is the measurement of Growth Hormone (GH) over the course of a day. The amount of GH fluctuates through the day, so by testing it at different times it allows them to get a better overall picture of what the levels are. They also measure Insulin-Like Growth Factor 1 (IGF-1) which responds to GH. In someone like me, these measurements are used to see how well my treatment is going to see how well my acromegaly is controlled.

How is it done?

I went in for 8:30 into hospital. My weight, height and blood pressure was measured. A cannula was placed into the vein on my arm. A cannula is a tiny little tube with a valve tap on it.

Every hour or so, a nurse would come along an attach a small vial to the tap and draw off a small amount of blood. This doesn’t hurt one bit. At lunch time, I’m given lunch, and a cup of tea or coffee. The blood testing continues every hour until about three o’clock in the afternoon. The cannula is taken out, and I’m free to go on my way. The worst bit for me is when they take the sticky plastic off my arm that was securing the cannula – it’s really pulls on the hairs of my arm. Ouch!

Can I eat breakfast before I go?

You need to check. Yes, I could eat breakfast before arriving. Check however with your hospital for the procedure for yours. If for example they are planning on doing an “oral glucose tolerance test”, then you will be asked not to eat before you go. It’s best for you to check.

Is it painful?

No, not really. When they put the cannula in, it is a bit painful, but it’s not too bad really. It’s a bit like having an injection. You might have to be a bit careful of not bending your arm too much if it’s put in the fold of your arm (on the other side to your elbow).

Taking the cannula out doesn’t hurt. Taking the sticky plastic tape that was holding the cannula in place really pulls on the hairs of my arm, and I find that the worst bit!

So what do you do all day during the “Day Curve”?

There’s always someone to talk to in hospital – nurses, other patients, and unsuspecting doctors. I managed to have a really good chat with one of the doctors (St.) who was brilliantly helpful.

I took some books, a magazine, a newspaper and a laptop. I was given free access to the hospital wifi whilst I was there, which was great.

I actually quite enjoyed my day in hospital!

How often is it done?

In my case, it is done every three months. This is because my acromegaly isn’t fully controlled at the moment, and I’ve not gone for the operation to remove the pituitary adenoma as yet. As you get better controlled, you may find that your day curve becomes every six months or twelve months or longer. Naturally, if your treatment is a real success then you may only need a day curve unless it is suspected that your condition has come back.

When do you get your results?

At The Christie hospital where I attend, the GH and IGF-1 are tested every-other Friday at the moment. I will probably get a phone call next Friday from the Acromegaly Research Specialist Nurse to let me know the results. The results will be discussed in detail by the Professor during my appointment next month.