FibroScan®, also known as transient elastography, is an accurate, non-invasive, painless aid for managing patients with liver disease. FibroScan is FDA-approved for clinical management of patients with liver disease and is covered by most insurance carriers.

FibroScan works by emitting a pulse of energy, which you may feel as a slight vibration on your skin. FibroScan measures the speed of this energy and immediately provides this information to your physician, who then uses it as part of a broader evaluation of your liver health. In essence, FibroScan measures liver stiffnessand translates this into an estimation of liver damage.

Traditionally, physicians have used liver biopsy to determine the severity of liver disease, but liver biopsy is invasive, carries a risk of complications (bleeding), is expensive (total costs are typically more than $1,000), and requires time off from your daily activities. In contrast, FibroScan can allow your physician to get the needed information concerning the extent of liver damage (scar tissue, also called fibrosis) much easier, with the only preparation being to fast for three hours before the test. Most liver conditions have been studied using FibroScan, and more than 500 scientific articles have been published using the technology. While there are other non-invasive methods to estimate liver damage, using blood tests or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI),

FibroScan offers high accuracy, and is the least expensive of all the available tests.

FibroScan offers many benefits:

  • Consistent results: The examined area is 100 times the size of a biopsy, which may reduce sampling errors.
  • Covered by most insurance plans.
  • The procedure is painless, takes about 10 minutes, and is performed in the office.

In addition, using the same machine, and during the same examination, physicians can determine the amount of fat in the liver (called steatosisin medical jargon). This is very important for those suffering from fatty liver disease. This common condition affects millions of Americans. The severe form of this condition, called Non-Alcoholic Steatohepatitis (NASH) will become the leading cause of liver disease requiring liver transplantation in the US in the next several years. Using FibroScan, we can make better choices to determine the best treatment, and follow the progress of that treatment, with repeat FibroScan testing.

We often use FibroScan technology to guide treatment of viral Hepatitis B and C, as well as to determine the need for liver cancer screening, and to determine the risk of bleeding from varicose veins (called varices) in the esophagus. This complication typically occurs in those with advanced liver disease.

The procedure is very safe, and is FDA approved for use in adults, with the exception of those with an indwelling battery (such as cardiac pacemaker or pain stimulator) and women who are pregnant.

You can see a video of a FibroScan being performed at www.peakgastro.com.

Your physician can refer you for a FibroScan, or you can schedule one yourself.

About the author

Dr. Paul Pinto has completed fellowship training in both hepatology (liver disease), as well as general gastroenterology
Dr. Paul Pinto

Dr. Paul Pinto has completed fellowship training in both hepatology (liver disease), as well as general gastroenterology.

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