13 Sep FibroScan Eliminates The Need For Liver Biopsy
Southern California Liver Centers was the first facility in the west coast to receive Fibroscan a newly approved technology that could eliminate painful and costly biopsies for liver disease patients in Southern California.
The FibroScan is a painless, non-invasive liver scan, which measures the stiffness of a patient’s liver: a key factor in determining the condition and extent of a patient’s liver damage. It is administered with a probe that looks and feels much like what pregnant woman experiences during an ultrasound.
A FibroScan test eliminates the need for a liver biopsy, where a 6-inch needle is inserted into the liver to extract a sample for testing under a microscope. In addition to being painful, biopsies are expensive, running as high as $7,000. FibroScan tests are dramatically less expensive.
The American Liver Foundation estimates that 1 in 10 Americans has liver disease. Liver disease is the fourth leading cause of death among adults 45-54. More than 6 million children in the U.S. have non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Because Hepatitis C (a liver disease) is so prevalent in baby boomers, last year the CDC issued new recommendations that every baby boomer be tested.
The FibroScan could dramatically impact the way liver patients in Southern California (San Diego and Orange County) are treated.
“In comparison to the costlier and far more painful alternative of a traditional liver biopsy which can take several hours to complete and several days waiting for lab results, FibroScan is a 10-minute process that can completely change the way we conduct this procedure,” says spokesperson.
The FibroScan works by sending a vibration through the probe and into the liver. The device then measures how long it takes the vibration to travel through the liver. Vibrations travel through diseased livers faster than
through healthy livers. The patient may feel a little tingling, but the procedure is nothing like the traditional method of inserting a 6-inch needle to cut and extract a portion of the patient’s liver. And there simply is no recovery period following the procedure. By correctly identifying a liver’s stiffness, doctors can better determine appropriate treatment and medication.
FibroScan procedures given throughout the treatment process can give doctors a quick and pain-free evaluation of how the disease and treatment are progressing.
“The non-invasive and far more affordable nature of the tests will help to bring in multitudes of patients who’ve been postponing the procedure for fear of the cost, and painful nature of the old tests. This device will save lives by letting us see the extent of damage that’s already been done, and helping us diagnose the proper treatment for what we hope will lead to an eventual recovery.”
FibroScan was first introduced in Europe in 2003 and received clearance by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in April 2013.