Liver diagnostics

A new type of device, the FibroScan (transient elastography), uses elastic waves to determine liver stiffness which theoretically can be converted into a liver score based on the METAVIR scale. The FibroScan produces an ultrasound image of the liver (from 20–80 mm) along with a pressure reading (in kPa). The test is much faster than a biopsy (lasts 2.5–5 minutes) and is painless. It shows reasonable correlation with the severity of cirrhosis. The scan is designed to measure the level of fibrosis in the liver. 

What is Fibrosis of the Liver

Fibrosis is stiffening and scarring of the liver caused by different liver diseases and conditions such as:

  • Fatty liver disease
  • Liver damage due to alcohol abuse
  • Chronic viral hepatitis

Your liver carries out several essential functions in your body including detoxifying harmful substances, cleaning your blood and producing vital nutrients. Detecting fibrosis early provides an opportunity to change your lifestyle to prevent the fibrosis becoming more widespread and leading to an even more severe chronic liver disease.

Fibroscan at The Princess Grace Hospital

The Princes Grace Hospital is one of just a handful of hospitals in the UK that is able to offer our patients the upgraded FibroScan machine which not only measures liver stiffness but can also detect liver steatosis, known as fatty liver.

The FibroScan is completely painless and so you will not require an anaesthetic or any sedation. Dr O'Brien will pass an ultrasound wave into your abdomen around the area of your liver while you lie on your back.  A mechanical pulse at the surface of the skin passes through the liver creating an ‘elastic wave’. The entire procedure takes about 15 minutes.

Getting the results of your Fibroscan

All patients get their FibroScan results immediately. These results, displayed as readings rather than an image, will show whether there are any regions of scarring and also how stiff your liver is.  During and after the test Dr O'Brien will help you to understand your individual results and help to guide you as to what you need to do to get the most out of your treatment. 

Ideally a FibroScan is carried out in combination with a panel of liver blood tests, these can be arranged at your first consultation with Dr O'Brien.