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Fibroscan - A new and simple method for early diagnosis of liver disease

By Dr. Shanti Swaroop Dhar in Gastroenterology, Hepatology & Endoscopy

Jul 15 , 2015 | 2 min read

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Liver disease is common in India. According to the Indian Council of Medical Research, almost 32% of the Indian population has liver problems. The continuing liver problem leads to liver fibrosis and Cirrhosis (the liver does not function properly due to long-term damage) which accounts for almost 200,000 deaths in India every year. Liver cirrhosis is one of the top 10 causes of death worldwide and 1/5th of the global deaths due to cirrhosis occurs in India. The commonest cause for chronic liver disease is NAFLD (Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease), which is a lifestyle disease occurring in individuals with improper diet, lack of exercise, tendency to fat around the stomach, and lipid and sugar-related problems in the blood, occurring in about 1/3rd of the Indian population. The other causes are alcohol and Hepatitis B & C infections. Such patients can progress to chronic liver disease with fibrosis and cirrhosis without having any symptoms and with essentially normal liver function tests. Hence, an early diagnosis is difficult and often missed.

By the time patients develop symptoms such as jaundice, ascites, encephalopathy, and gastrointestinal bleeding, the liver disease is advanced and the lifespan of the patient is significantly reduced. About 50% of patients presenting with the above symptoms die within 1-1 ½ year of diagnosis. It is therefore of utmost importance that an early diagnosis is made so that early treatment may prevent disease progression and save a life.

Till recently the best method for diagnosis of cirrhosis was liver biopsy which is not only invasive but costly and associated with complications. We now have a novel technique, the fibroscan, which allows noninvasive assessment of liver stiffness (fibrosis and cirrhosis), thus, obviating the need for liver biopsy. In addition to quantification of liver fibrosis, the fibroscan also quantitates the amount of fat in the liver. The method is not only cheaper and non-invasive but quicker and equally accurate as liver biopsy in diagnosis. It also helps in monitoring the progression or regression of liver disease, thus allowing treatment to be tailored to individual needs.

This state-of-the-art, Fibroscan technology, for the diagnosis of liver disease is now available at Max Super Speciality Hospital and provides an immediate, non-invasive and painless measurement of liver health. It is useful in patients with fatty liver in order to identify those with fibrosis who have progressive disease. It is also useful for the assessment of fibrosis and cirrhosis of the liver due to any cause.