How Does My Internal Health Sound?
Medical technology is constantly evolving, as brilliant minds find ever more new and innovative ways to diagnose and treat. Conditions like liver fibrosis have traditionally involved a liver biopsy. However, new technology has been developed that enables the staging of liver fibrosis to be diagnosed using sound waves instead.
What is liver fibrosis?
This is also known as the formation of an abnormally large volume of scarring on the liver. Scar tissue is created whenever the liver tries to repair and replace damaged cells. When the liver becomes scarred like this it cannot function in the same way as a healthy liver and that can cause problems on an ongoing basis. Liver disease is a condition that is measured in stages, like different levels of bosses in video games. However, unlike a game, these are levels you don’t want to pass! The early stage of liver disease is liver fibrosis. When this progresses, and the scarring becomes severe, then this will move to become cirrhosis. Assigning a stage to the liver disease helps to better understand the condition as well as what needs to happen next to treat it.
How do soundwaves help?
The Fibroscan device has been developed to help measure stiffness as a sign of possible scarring on the liver, which uses soundwaves to do it so it’s safe for everyone. The probe will measure the speedof the shear/sound wave as this pass through the liver. The results can then be converted into liver stiffness, which is expressed in kilopascals. Together, the process of doing this is often referred to as liver vibration controlled transient elastography (VCTE).
How does liver Fibroscan work?
The only available method for testing liver scarring used to be a liver biopsy which remains the gold standard where a diagnosis can not be made any other way. This involves taking a 6-inch needle into the liver to take a sample. The biggest, and most obvious, disadvantage of a biopsy is that it is very invasive and can be painful. So much so that a patient undergoing a liver biopsy requires hospitalization for a day and carry risks such as pain and bleeding. The biopsy process extracts a very small sample of the liver, which can be helpful in diagnosis, but it can lead to staging errors. By contrast, Fibroscan is a pain-free non-invasive procedure which has been developed with biopsy to be able to show the stages of fibrosis and improve saftey and speed of assessment. It does not require a hospital stay or sedation of any kind. In fact, it can be completed in under 10 minutes.
The testing process for checking your liver health is getting easier and easier to access.
New technology using sound waves that effectively listen to the liver are evolving the staging process to a whole new level. Giving you the option to have liver health rather than wait for liver disease.