Nonalcoholic fatty liver diseases (NAFLD) refer to liver disorders that affect individuals who consume little to no alcohol. As the name implies, this condition results in the build-up of excess fat in the liver. It affects about one-quarter of the United States population, making it one of the most common types of chronic liver disease. This condition could be diagnosed by a series of tests that may include the collection of liver tissue for biopsy. However, the US Food and Drug Administration has recently approved a non-invasive method for diagnosing NAFLD, called FibroScan®.
What Is FibroScan®?
FibroScan® is an ultrasound diagnostic device that utilizes vibration-controlled transient elastography (VCTE). The device has a probe and transducer that your doctor will use to transmit ultrasound waves through the liver and measure the velocity of the sound waves. These sound waves are measured in hertz and are collected to determine the stiffness of the liver tissue. The data collected will help your healthcare provider diagnose whether you have a liver condition.
How Does It Work?
You will typically need a licensed healthcare specialist such as a hepatologist or gastrointestinal doctor to perform a FibroScan test. Your doctor would ask you to lie down on your back and then clean and prepare the skin directly over your liver. A special gel, similar to the one used for pregnant women, is applied directly to the patient’s skin over the liver. A doctor or technician will collect and store the results. They may need some recalibration to ensure that they are getting correct and accurate data. Your doctor can evaluate the results immediately as soon as the procedure is complete.
What Are The Benefits?
Compared to traditional diagnostic tests for liver diseases such as NAFLD, FibroScan offers these benefits:
A FibroScan® test is as fast as any other ultrasound test. Unlike a biopsy which requires minor surgery and some recovery time, the test should only take 5 to 10 minutes. You can also get their results almost immediately after the test to give to your doctor.
As a specialized ultrasound test, FibroScan requires no type of sedative nor medication. At most, you’ll need to wipe off the transducer gel.
The development of a fatty liver is usually undetectable by standard methods during its early stages. FibroScan can help you get an earlier diagnosis of NAFLD and other liver diseases.
Safer Than A Liver Biopsy
Liver biopsies have side effects, although they are rare. Having one could cause excessive bleeding in some patients, which could lead to infection and possible injury to other organs. With FibroScan, your doctor won’t need to remove any tissue, preventing any possibility of excessive bleeding. The procedure is also completely pain-free, although you may experience some tingling or vibration from the ultrasound wand.
A FibroScan examination is less expensive than traditional diagnostic tests and is usually covered by most insurance plans.
More Accurate Test Results
Since the procedure does not involve collecting liver tissue, incorrect sampling of the tissue is impossible. There is also zero risk of a contaminated sample.
FibroScan is also beneficial for patients because they don’t need to take days off from work for the examination. Aside from the day they have to come to the clinic for the procedure, they only need a few hours. With this technique, you will not require hospitalization and avoid any risk of complications.
FibroScan has no limitations on its number of uses. Continual testing lets you and your doctor monitor the development of your liver condition without resorting to external symptoms or multiple biopsies. You can see how you’re doing and reliably evaluate the effects of your treatment plan.
FibroScan Affiliated Clinics In California
In their early stages, fatty liver conditions are a challenge to detect by traditional methods. However, FibroScan examinations have multiple benefits over older methods for the prediction of fatty liver diseases. Most critically, it lets you identify and diagnose diseases earlier. The sooner you and your doctor can determine your liver condition, the sooner you can get treatment. Early treatment also helps ensure a successful prognosis.
Digestive and gastroenterological health is a critical factor in maintaining your holistic health. With over 20 affiliated healthcare clinics around California, inSite Digestive Health Care is your go-to place for all of your gastroenterology needs. Find the closest one near you by using our office locator. Our professional team, comprised of different healthcare providers, will surely provide you with the finest care from diagnosis to treatment and rehabilitation.
If you have any questions about our services, please contact the healthcare provider of your choice. We’re all looking forward to serving you!