Brooklyn Gastroenterologist uses FibroScan® to diagnose liver disease
Many individuals are surprised to learn that liver disease often produces no symptoms. In fact, it’s common for patients to first find out they have stage 4 liver disease at the time of diagnosis. Because liver diseases like cirrhosis are not curable, effective diagnosis tools are important. At Atlantic Gastroenterology in Brooklyn, NY, we offer FibroScan® which is a painless, non-invasive alternative to liver biopsy that can be used to diagnose liver disease.
What is Liver Fibrosis and Fatty Liver Disease?
One of the most common causes of liver disease is too much fat in the organ, otherwise known as steatosis. While a healthy liver contains some fat, anything above 5-6 percent is considered abnormal.
Over time, fatty liver disease can lead to a condition called steatohepatitis, where excess fat accumulation causes inflammation and scarring. As time progresses, liver undergoes fibrosis as scar tissue replaces healthy liver tissue.
Liver fibrosis reduces blood flow through the liver and the liver also loses normal function. Without treatment, liver fibrosis can lead to cirrhosis, liver failure, or liver cancer.
In most cases, fatty liver disease and fibrosis do not produce significant symptoms until they have reached end stages. Some symptoms of liver disease can include:
- Abdominal discomfort
- Weight loss or gain
- Fluid buildup/infection of the abdomen
What is FibroScan®
It’s a non-surgical way to measure fibrosis (stiffness) of the liver to diagnose and monitor liver disease over time. The procedure is like an ultrasound and is a quick, easy alternative to more invasive options such as a liver biopsy.
What causes liver scarring:
A healthy liver will be soft and elastic, whereas a stiff liver indicates that some damage has occurred. Liver scarring can be caused for several reasons including:
- Hepatitis B
- Hepatitis C
- Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
- Alcoholic liver disease
- PBC or PSC
- Genetic conditions (hemochromatosis / Wilson’s disease)
- Autoimmune hepatitis
How it works:
- The patient is advised not to eat or drink 3 hours prior to the test
- The technician will advise the patient to lay on his or her back with the right arm raised up and behind the head, exposing the right area of the abdomen
- A water-based gel is applied to the skin and the FibroScan® probe is placed over the liver
- During the scan, patients may feel a slight vibration as the probe delivers ultrasound waves
- The FibroScan® calculates the speed of this energy to measure liver stiffness
- The entire exam takes approximately 5-15 minutes
Benefits of FibroScan®
A traditional needle biopsy is an invasive procedure that uses a needle to extract a sample of liver tissue. For many patients, a FibroScan® can be used in place of a liver biopsy.
Some of the biggest advantages of FibroScan® are:
- Quick – The biggest benefit is that FibroScan® is a fast and easy way to assess liver health. The scan itself takes less than 15 minutes, and the entire appointment is usually done in less than 30 minutes.
- Pain-Free – There is no needle entering the body, just a slight vibration from the ultrasound waves.
- Fast, Accurate Results – We can have the measurements of the FibroScan® immediately for evaluation or diagnostic purposes. The FibroScan® gives the physician the information needed to identify liver disease and tailor treatment.
- Safe – Can be used repeatedly over time to monitor the success of treatment. In many cases, the FibroScan® replaces the need for biopsy altogether.
- Risk-Free – The liver is a tough organ and can repair itself from damage repeatedly over time. The problem with this is that there are often no symptoms of liver disease until it has progressed to the end stages. If you suspect you have liver damage, this is a risk-free way to determine the answer.
Schedule your FibroScan® today with a gastroenterologist in Brooklyn, NY
At Atlantic Gastroenterology, we use FibroScan® to diagnose liver disease as well as monitor the condition over time for response to treatment and lifestyle modification. If you are in the Brooklyn, NY area and have been experiencing symptoms of liver disease or have risk factors for the disease that you’d like to discuss, please call us today at 718 521-2840.