What is Fibroscan?
FibroScan® is a non-invasive way of assessing liver stiffness. It is based on Vibration Controlled Transient Elastography (VCTE™) technology and is designed to perform non-invasive measurements of liver vibration shear wave speed and estimate liver tissue stiffness. The information it provides is different from an ultrasound scan. FibroScan® and ultrasound are complementary. Ultrasound is used mainly to detect cancer or gallstones whereas FibroScan® assesses whether you have developed liver fibrosis or scarring. A normal liver should have a low median liver stiffness measurement (LSM). The higher your LSM, the more likely you have severe liver fibrosis or cirrhosis. If you have advanced liver fibrosis or cirrhosis, your doctor will discuss treatment options and the need for regular screening for liver cancer.
FibroScan® is non-invasive, quick and painless. You will be asked to lie on an examination couch and place your right arm above your head. A probe will be placed on your abdominal wall. The probe contains a mechanical vibrator that produces a low-amplitude elastic wave that travels through the skin and intercostal space into the liver. Ultrasound is used to track the shear (elastic) wave, measure the speed of the wave and provide an estimated stiffness of the liver. The results are displayed on the system unit. At least 10 readings will be taken to ensure we get an accurate result. The median liver stiffness measurement reading is then calculated by FibroScan®.
FibroScan is used as a screening tool to assess the health of your liver. This is essential in the assessment of patients with chronic liver disease, including hepatitis B, C or D, alcohol and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and any form of auto-immune liver disease or congenital liver disease. The more fibrosis and scarring there is, the higher the liver stiffness reading will be. FibroScan® helps to assess the need for
- Further assessment including liver biopsy
- Assess prognosis and need for treatment.
- Monitor disease progression or regression via serial measurements
Do not eat or drink anything for two hours before your FibroScan®. Sips of water are permitted. Please continue taking any prescribed medication as you would normally. You will not need to remove your clothing for the scan, but we will need to expose the right side of your abdomen (tummy). Therefore, we encourage women not to wear a dress on the day of the test.
You will be required to check-in at the clinic and then take a seat in the waiting area. A medical staff will call you into the consult rooms for the FibroScan®. Ideally, you should have consulted your doctor before the scan about any questions pertaining to the scan and should be agreeable to proceed with the scan on the day.
You will be asked to lie on an examination couch and place your right arm above your head. The staff will need to examine your abdomen to find the ideal place to perform the scan. A probe will be placed on your abdomen and a vibration pulse generated. This may feel a little uncomfortable but should not hurt. At least 10 readings will be performed to get an accurate result. FibroScan® should take between 10 and 20 minutes to perform.
You can go home or return to work after the scan. The staff performing the scan will not be able to discuss the results with you at the time of the scan as your doctor will need to review the FibroScan®
results. Your doctor will discuss the results with you at your next consultation.
A FibroScan® does not involve any radiation and does not cause any side effects. It is safe in pregnancy. There are no absolute contraindications for the test, although the presence of ascites (fluid in the abdominal cavity) prevents propagation of the vibration wave and therefore frequently results in failure to obtain readings.
FibroScan® results are measured using kilo Pascals (or kPa) and range from 2 to 75 kPa. The normal range for a FibroScan® is approximately between 3.5 to 7 kPa. A higher LSM may suggest you have liver fibrosis or cirrhosis. At least 10 readings will be performed to get an accurate result. A median of these readings is obtained. The Inter-quartile range/median reading ratio should be <30% to ensure a good quality scan.
The cost of a FibroScan® will be discussed with you before the scan. You may be able to claim the cost of FibroScan® depending on your insurance plan.