What is FibroScan?
FibroScan Testing is a recently FDA-approved non-invasive diagnostic device used to measure liver scarring or fibrosis caused by a number of liver diseases. Similar to undergoing a conventional liver ultrasound exam, outpatient FibroScan testing is quick, painless, easy, and provides a non-surgical alternative to the traditional liver biopsy to assess liver damage.
Associates in Gastroenterology, PC is one of the first gastroenterology clinics in the Southern Colorado area to provide this innovative procedure.
Your physician may recommend a FibroScan test if you have one of the following chronic liver conditions:
- Autoimmune Hepatitis
- Genetic Diseases (such as Hemochromatosis and Wilson’s Disease)
- Hepatitis B
- Hepatitis C
- Alcoholic Liver Disease
- Non-Alcoholic Steatohepatitis (NASH)
What to expect once you arrive for the Test:
- Plan to arrive 15 minutes before your scheduled procedure time
- Please bring insurance/ID card, and list of your current medications
- FibroScan requires no sedation of any kind. You may drive yourself to and from the test.
- The procedure takes about 5 minutes. Your appointment will last about 30 minutes.
- For the procedure, you will lie on your back with your right arm raised behind your head, and your right abdominal area exposed (wear loose fitting clothing)
- A medical provider will apply a water-based gel to your skin, then will place a non-invasive probe over your liver
- During the exam, you may feel a slight vibration on the skin at the tip of the probe as it delivers ultrasound waves to the area for measuring purposes.
What to Expect after the FibroScan Test:
The computer will analyze the information from your test. The results will be given to your physician for review. You will be notified of the results once reviewed.
What is a FibroScan? What is a FibroScan of the liver?
If you’re asking, “What is a FibroScan for the liver?” or “What does a FibroScan tell you?”, we have your answer!
FibroScan® is the name of a medical device used to help determine the health of your liver. The term FibroScan, which is often confused for “fiber scan,” “fibro scan” or even “fibro liver scan,” is also used to refer to the FibroScan liver test itself.
If your doctor is recommending a fibroscan of the liver, it is likely to assess the health of your liver and detect liver fibrosis, which can indicate the presence and extent of liver damage or liver disease. FibroScan uses advanced ultrasound technology called transient elastography to measure liver stiffness.
So, what is FibroScan and what is FibroScan exam? It is a helpful technology and a quick, easy, noninvasive exam that together allows you and your doctor to find out the state of your liver health.
Why would I need a FibroScan? Why would a doctor order a FibroScan?
The liver scan FibroScan can be used to help diagnose or monitor the progression of diseases affecting the liver, such as:
- Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease: With nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), excessive amounts of fat are stored in liver cells, which puts you at risk for developing liver damage.
- Alcoholic liver disease: Also known as alcoholic hepatitis, this is liver damage caused by drinking more alcohol than your liver can process, creating inflammation that can cause serious scarring (cirrhosis), which can lead to liver failure.
- Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH): A form of NAFLD that is more aggressive than fatty liver and causes liver damage, including cirrhosis, and can lead to liver failure.
- Viral infection: When the liver becomes infected with the Hepatitis B virus (HBV) or the Hepatitis C virus (HCV), it causes liver inflammation and puts you at an increased risk of developing cirrhosis or liver cancer, or of suffering from liver failure.
- Hemochromatosis: Excessive amounts of iron are stored in your organs, including the liver, which can become toxic for the body and create liver damage and other serious life-threatening complications.
The FibroScan test can also be used to monitor liver health for patients following a liver transplantation.
What is a FibroScan looking for?
The FibroScan is a noninvasive way to gauge the health of your liver and determine what stage of liver disease you and your care team might be up against. With the FibroScan, liver stiffness is measured, which indicates whether or not scarring is present, and which can also indicate the extent of the scarring.
Scarring of the liver in the initial stages is called fibrosis, and more severe scarring is cirrhosis. The FibroScan is like a fibrosis scan that can use scarring measurements to provide a diagnosis or to track the progression of liver disease.
What is a normal FibroScan result?
It is important to speak with your doctor if you have any questions about your FibroScan results. In general, though, the FibroScan will provide you with a:
- Cap Score: The amount of your liver with fatty change is measured by your CAP score in decibels per meter (dB/m) and corresponds to your steatosis grade (S1, S2 or S3). The lower the percentage of your liver with fatty change, the healthier your liver is and the lower your CAP score and steatosis grade from your FibroScan. A CAP score of 5% or lower indicates a healthy liver, while a CAP score of 5% to 33% with a steatosis grade of S1 indicates a mild fatty liver. CAP scores and steatosis grades higher than that indicate moderate to severe liver fat content and more liver damage.
- Fibrosis Score: Based on the amount of scarring in your liver, as measured in kilopascals (kPa), you will receive a fibrosis score. The lower the score, the less scarring you have on your liver and the healthier your liver is. A normal result is between 2 and 6 kPa. A fibrosis score of F0 to F1 indicates no liver scarring or mild liver scarring. The highest score possible is F4, which indicates advanced liver scarring, or cirrhosis.
Depending on your unique health situation, your FibroScan result may not be all that is needed to paint a full picture of your liver health. In those cases, your provider may use other tests, such as blood tests, imaging scans or biopsies, in addition to the FibroScan.
Is a FibroScan the same as ultrasound?
When you have a FibroScan of liver, you are essentially having an ultrasound of the liver. If you’ve been wondering if you should have one or the other, it’s not really “FibroScan vs. ultrasound” as much as it is “FibroScan as your ultrasound.” That’s because liver FibroScan uses transient elastography, which is an ultrasound-based modality, an enhanced form of ultrasound.
For many patients who are just learning about FibroScan for the first time, this should be reassuring. Ultrasounds are common procedures many of us have had before and have found to be relatively quick and comfortable experiences.
How do I prepare for my FibroScan?
FibroScan preparation is simple and straightforward. You will be asked to fast for at least 3 hours before your liver fibrosis test, and to take only clear fluids during that time. You should wear comfortable clothes (e.g. shirt, loose dress) that can be moved/repositioned to allow the nurse to examine your right upper abdomen. Please do not wear any tight clothing to your appointment. You may also be asked to rest on the examination bed for a few minutes before the exam because it is important for the measurements to be taken while your body is at rest.
Is FibroScan painful? How long does the procedure take?
Good news! FibroScans are not at all painful, and no sedation is needed. If you have ever had an ultrasound before, you will find the FibroScan procedure to be similar. You lie on your back with your right arm above your head, providing access to your right rib cage so that your liver can be scanned. Gel is applied to the area and the FibroScan device is placed on the skin between your ribs. You may feel a slight vibration as the device sends energy pulses to your liver to gather measurements.
Before FibroScan technology became available in the U.S. in 2013, doctors had to rely on liver biopsies to discover the same information now available through a liver scan FibroScan, so we can be grateful for this painless technology.
You may be wondering, “how long does a Fibroscan take?” More good news: The typical exam takes only 5-10 minutes.
How long does it take to get results from a FibroScan?
You can expect your results within a few business days after your appointment.
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