Fibroscan is a simple, painless, non-invasive procedure that is used to accurately assess the health of the liver. During the scan a probe is placed on the surface of the skin. Using a combination of an elastic wave (generated by a mechanical pulse) and ultrasound technology, a numerical value measuring the ‘stiffness’ of the liver is then recorded. ‘Stiffness’ in the liver can indicate liver scarring (or fibrosis), which can ultimately lead to cirrhosis and liver cancer.
ADVANTAGES OF FIBROSCAN
- It is quick and painless:The test itself is non-invasive and can be performed in less than ten minutes. A quick and painless way of assessing the health of the liver, it has largely replaced the traditional liver biopsy. As it provides critical information on liver health in such a short space of time, the Fibroscan represents a major development in liver medicine.
- Spots the early signs of liver damage: Your liver is tough and can withstand years of damage by repairing itself and protecting the rest of your body. The downside of this is that the liver shows few signs of distress until it goes into the final stages of liver failure. This can mean that before you notice any of the symptoms associated with liver failure, the damage may already be irreparable. Quick, simple and risk free, a Fibroscan can identify the early signs of liver damage that would otherwise go unnoticed.
- Provides an accurate diagnosis that can determine the type of treatment that is subsequently administered:A Fibroscan measures liver fibrosis or “scarring”, which is essentially liver damage that is often the result of metabolic syndrome, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, chronic viral hepatitis or excess alcohol intake. If significant damage is detected, the patient will need a specialist to identify the cause of the damage and then manage the condition appropriately. In cases of no scarring or mild fibrosis only, lifestyle intervention is often enough to prevent the development of liver disease or avoid disease progression.
- Reduces the need for a liver biopsy:The traditional method for assessing the health of the liver, a liver biopsy is an invasive procedure where part of the liver is removed and then tested. Not only is it expensive, it requires the patient to be hospitalised for half a day. In rare cases the sample taken isn’t actually representative of the health of the whole liver and the results can also be interpreted differently depending on the pathologist. A Fibroscan avoids these issues.
- Can easily monitor changes in liver disease:With no restriction on the frequency of use, a Fibroscan can monitor the progression, stagnation or regression of liver disease in an individual following diagnosis. As the scan provides an accurate, quantitative measure of liver damage it is perfect for assessing the effectiveness of liver treatment or lifestyle changes.