Liver disease is common in India. According to Indian Council of Medical Research, almost 32% of Indian population has liver problems. Continuing liver problem leads to liver fibrosis and Cirrhosis (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 occur in India. The commonest cause for chronic liver disease is NAFLD (Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease), which is a life style disease occurring in individuals with improper diet, lack of exercise, tendency to fat around the stomach, and with 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 test. 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 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 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 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 diagnosis of liver disease is now available at Max Super Speciality Hospital and provides 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 assessment of fibrosis and cirrhosis of liver due to any cause.