2009 > Cancer Prevention > Fibroscan takes the non-invasive approach to liver diagnostics

Fibroscan Takes the Non-Invasive Approach to Liver Diagnostics



To learn more about this exciting technology, Better Health spoke with Dr. Veerakit Apiratprachasin, a hepatologist specializing in treating liver fibrosis and cirrhosis. "Fibroscan's ultrasound elastrography uses low frequency elastic waves to deliver highly-accurate detection and assessment of liver fibrosis and cirrhosis, without requiring an invasive needle biopsy of the liver," Dr. Veerakit says.

Patient examinations using Fibroscan are fast and painless. With the machine's hand-held probe positioned against the patient's abdomen, elastic ultrasound waves emitted through the probe flow through to the liver. Fibroscan software measures wave velocity, which indicates the extent of stiffness of liver tissue. Faster wave speeds indicate greater tissue stiffness. "The whole procedure takes only about 10 minutes and gives almost instant results," notes Dr. Veerakit. "Doctors can plan any necessary follow-up treatment without delay."     


Patients with hepatitis B or hepatitis C are among those at greatest risk for developing liver scarring; traditionally they have been required to undergo periodic needle biopsies of the liver to monitor disease progress and check for the presence of cirrhosis. "Hepatitis B and C can cause serious damage to the liver," Dr. Veerakit explains. "Frequent monitoring of the liver is very important, but many patients dread the thought of undergoing liver biopsies every two to three years. However, as Fibroscan is a totally non-invasive procedure, liver check-ups are much less stressful for patients. The procedure can be repeated as often as needed with no side effects, no pain, and at a lower cost."

Fibroscan is currently being used only to measure liver fibrosis. But with its combination of speed, accuracy, and non-invasive technique, medical experts expect that this exciting technology will be put to wider use in many important areas of diagnosis and prevention.

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