A Fibroscan is a simple, painless and non-invasive procedure 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 recorded. This can indicate liver scarring (fibrosis), which can ultimately lead to cirrhosis and liver cancer. Let’s look in more detail at what a Fibroscan is.
1. A Fibroscan is quick and painless
A Fibroscan is non-invasive and can be done in less than 10 minutes. It’s a quick and painless way of assessing the liver’s health and has largely replaced the traditional liver biopsy. It provides critical information on liver health so quickly that the Fibroscan represents a major development in liver medicine.
2. It spots 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 is that this multifunction organ 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.
3. It gives an accurate diagnosis
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.
4. It reduces the need for a liver biopsy
The traditional method of assessing the health of the liver is a liver biopsy; it’s an invasive procedure where part of the liver is removed and tested. A liver biopsy is also expensive, and the patient needs to stay in hospital overnight.
In rare cases, the sample taken isn’t representative of the health of the entire liver and the results can be interpreted differently, depending on the pathologist. A Fibroscan avoids these issues.
5. It 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 following diagnosis. As the scan provides an accurate, quantitative measure of liver damage, it’s perfect for assessing the effectiveness of liver treatment or lifestyle changes.