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What is FibroScan, and How Can It Help With Fatty Liver?
If your doctor thinks you may have fatty liver disease, he or she will order several tests to verify the diagnosis and determine how much of your liver is affected.
You might start with blood tests to check your liver enzymes. Elevated liver enzymes are an indicator of certain health conditions, including fatty liver. Next, an ultrasound or CT of your liver can help identify abnormalities on the liver.
If liver enzymes are elevated and an ultrasound or CT show abnormalities, the next step is a traditionally a biopsy. To do a biopsy, a doctor inserts a needle into your liver to remove a small piece of tissue. The tissue sample will be sent to a lab where to be examined under a microscope.
A traditional biopsy can determine the diagnosis of fatty liver by ruling out other conditions. It can also help determine the severity of the damage to the liver.
Because a biopsy is an invasive procedure, there are certain risks, like pain, infection, bleeding, and other more serious complications.
How is FibroScan different from a traditional biopsy?
A newer technique for diagnosing fatty liver disease uses a specialized ultrasound-based machine to measure scarring and fat buildup, called fatty change, in your liver. Like other ultrasound exams, FibroScan is painless, easy, and quick. And because it’s non-invasive, it doesn’t come with the same risks as an invasive biopsy.
A FibroScan doesn’t require any special preparation, although you may be asked not to eat or drink for a few hours before the FibroScan. It is completely painless, no sedation is necessary, and it only takes a few minutes to complete. After a FibroScan, you’ll be back on your feet in minutes with no recovery time or special instructions.
How does FibroScan work for fatty liver?
The buildup of fat cells in fatty liver disease causes scarring, called fibrosis. One way of measuring the severity of fatty liver disease is to measure the fibrosis present in the liver. Fibrosis causes stiffness in the liver tissue.
FibroScan, also called transient elastography, measures the speed of ultrasound waves as they move through the liver. The ultrasound waves move at different speeds through normal liver tissue and areas of fibrosis.
Results of a FibroScan are available immediately following the scan. Your doctor can interpret the results, and, together, you can make a plan for treatment or further testing, if needed.
Don’t wait to diagnosis your liver condition
If fear of a biopsy keeps you from moving forward with testing for possible fatty liver disease, talk to your doctor about FibroScan. It’s a fast, painless, non-invasive solution that can quickly tell you doctor important information about your condition. Within minutes, you can move past the fear and towards a plan for treatment.
Waiting is an option that can come at a steep price. Leaving fatty liver disease undiagnosed and untreated is risky. Severe fibrosis can lead to cirrhosis, a dangerous condition where the liver can no longer function correctly. Cirrhosis can be life-threatening.
There is no medication for treating fatty liver, but lifestyle changes can help reverse it in many cases. If you’re concerned about possible fatty liver disease, the time to talk to your doctor about FibroScan is now.