A FibroScan® is used to assess the degree of fibrosis (scarring) in your liver. This is a relatively new technique designed to estimate the amount of scarring without having to do a liver biopsy. The technique is very similar to an ultrasound, but much quicker. A probe is held against the skin and generates a pulse sending a wave through the liver. The speed that the transmitted wave travels though the liver can be measured by the probe. The stiffness of the liver influences the speed of the wave, and in turn we can measure the “stiffness” of the liver. This measurement correlates with the degree of liver fibrosis which can then be estimated.
A FibroScan® examination is composed of 10 easy acquisitions. You will be asked to lie on your back with your right arm raised above your head. The probe is placed on the skin at a spot in line with your underarm between the ribs. You may feel a slight click but there is no pain. A numerical liver stiffness measurement (LSM) is calculated after 10 readings. From this measurement we can give you an estimate as to the severity of your liver scarring (fibrosis). The examination usually lasts 5-10 minutes and you will have an immediate report. We do not expect that the liver stiffness measurement will be accurate in all cases and further tests including a liver biopsy may still be needed to confirm the readings and the cause of your liver disease. However, it has been proven to be an excellent non-invasive means of measuring liver fibrosis, especially in cases of cirrhosis. You may only require a single measurement or your doctor may recommend that you be monitored every few years, according to your underlying liver disease.