A painless, non-invasive test for liver damage
More than 6 million (one in four) Australians are living with some form of liver disease. Most of these people will at some stage need testing to assess if the disease has damaged their liver. In the past, this meant patients would need an invasive, and often painful, liver biopsy. But new, non-invasive technology is saving patients a lot of time and discomfort.
The FibroScan ® 502 Touch
A liver scan with the FibroScan® 502 Touch is a painless procedure similar to an ultrasound that allows doctors to determine whether disease such as hepatitis has scarred the patient’s liver. It does this by measuring any stiffness (or scarring) of the organ, which is known as fibrosis.
The FibroScan ® 502 Touch not only detects the presence of fibrosis but the degree to which the liver is affected. Fatty change within the liver, caused by fatty liver disease, can also be detected with the FibroScan ® 502 Touch
Moonee Valley Specialist Centre is the only private practice in Victoria to have a FibroScan® 502 Touch device. Centre Director and specialist nurse Nicole Starbuck-Connelly has undergone extensive training in the use of the FibroScan.
A liver scan test generally takes between five and 30 minutes. A probe is placed at a precise point on the patient’s right-hand side. The patient may feel a gentle vibration at the site of the probe, which generates a vibration wave. The faster the wave travels through the liver, the more serious the scarring.
The results are immediate and can help doctors decide what to do next – whether treatment is required and what treatment is best for the patient. Patients can undergo regular testing with theFibroScan® 502 Touch, enabling doctors to closely monitor whether the disease has progressed.
Many liver diseases such as hepatitis and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, can lead to fibrosis. Without successful treatment, fibrosis can lead to cirrhosis, for which there is no cure. Liver transplantation may be the only treatment.
For health professionals
TheFibroScan® 502 Touch or transient elastography uses fibrosis and steatosis quantification for the clinical management of patients with liver disease. It assesses shear (or vibration) wave speed and equivalent stiffness (expressed in kilopascal). Results range from 2.5kPa to 75kPa – a healthy person without liver disease could expect a reading of < 7.0kPa.
Patients with chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) will need a liver fibrosis assessment as part of eligibility for new treatments available on the Pharmaceutical Benefit Scheme (PBS).
Liver fibrosis can be assessed at Moonee Valley Specialist Centre using theFibroScan® 502 Touch. The non-invasive, painless procedure provides an accurate assessment of liver fibrosis in less than 30 minutes.
The new HCV treatments were listed on the PBS from 1 March 2016. For more information:
- The Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS)
- GESA media release
Mrs Nicole Starbuck-Connelly
Director, Moonee Valley Specialist Centre
03 9372 0372[