Mr Patrick Kennedy Gastroenterlogist and Hepatologist Consultant and Leading Expert in Liver disease at The GI Clinic, discusses the importance of a FibroScan and how this quick 10 minute non-invasive test can highlight and detect potential early liver related problems before they get worse.
What may prompt someone to have a FibroScan?
A FibroScan is recommended for any patient with abnormal liver function tests or where there is a suspicion of liver disease. A good clinical history is often enough to identify risk factors for liver disease. For example, in patients who drink to excess and have normal liver function tests, there may be liver damage which is not reflected in standard blood tests. It is well recognised that these blood tests can show normal results despite chronic liver disease or cirrhosis.
What does the scan look for?
A FibroScan quantifies liver fibrosis or “scarring”. It is a non-invasive test which can be performed in less than ten minutes. Previously, the majority of patients would need to have a liver biopsy to assess liver scarring. The presence of scarring of the liver is a worrying finding as it puts the patient at risk of progressive liver disease, cirrhosis and liver failure – with the presence of significant liver scarring (or cirrhosis) being a risk factor for liver cancer. The FibroScan allows us to quantify the amount of scarring and make appropriate management decisions. In some patients, this could be simple lifestyle advice to ensure mild fibrosis does not progress to moderate or severe scarring.
How does the machine work?
A probe is placed at the skin’s surface. Using a combination of an elastic wave (generated by a mechanical pulse) and ultrasound technology, a numerical value is recorded. The stiffer the liver, the higher the value. The degree of stiffness of the liver is an indicator of damage, from whatever cause. Ten valid readings must be recorded and the test itself is completely painless.
How long does it take/what can a patient expect from their consultation?
The FibroScan is a simple, non-invasive painless test, which provides vital information about your liver health. It usually takes less than 10 minutes to perform and the results can be discussed with the patient at the time of the test. This means no waiting around for results and in many cases no need for a second consultation.
What issues/conditions could the scan highlight and what would be the next step?
The FibroScan assesses liver fibrosis or “scarring”, which is essentially liver damage. If significant damage is detected, the patient will need specialist input to address the causes of the liver damage and 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.
What are the key benefits of having a FibroScan at our hospital?
The GI Clinic at St John & St Elizabeth Hospital uses state-of-the-art facilities and offers a consultant-led FibroScan service. This means after undergoing the test you have the opportunity to discuss the results directly witha leading liver expert.
Book a Fibroscan at The GI Clinic
We have a team of world-leading Gastroenterologists, Upper and Lower GI Surgeons, Radiologists and Oncologists, including Mr Patrick Kennedy, that make up the GI Clinic. To book a personalised appointment with a liver expert, call our friendly team on 020 7078 3802 or email [email protected]
Flexible appointment times are available.