Liver elastometry performed by Fibroscan is a well established non-invasive method for assessment of liver fibrosis.
In chronic liver disease replacement of liver cells by connective tissue (= liver fibrosis) is the cause of cirrhosis and liver failure. Until recently liver fibrosis was mainly assessed by liver biopsy and subsequent histological examination. Liver biopsy is an invasive procedure associated with a limited risk of complications such as pain, bleeding or local infection.
In this chapter you will find additional information on the FibroScan method.
The Fibroscan provides an immediate, non-invasive estimate of the degree of liver fibrosis. . The consistency of the liver is measured by an ultrasound-based technique – the stiffer the liver is, the more advanced is the fibrosis.
If the etiology (cause) of the disease is known, a Fibroscan assessment can replace a liver biopsy to monitor development of fibrosis. The advantage is the painless, no-risk technique which is well suited for repetitive measurements in longterm follow-ups.
In addition the Fibroscan can also measure the fat content of the liver simultaneously (CAP), which is helpful in particular in fatty liver disease.
The instrument has a special probe that is held to the right lateral part of the ribcage over the liver. The transducer of the probe sends out low-frequency waves that propagate through the liver tissue. The stiffer the liver is the faster the wave propagates .The propagation speed of the wave is used for calculation of the liver stiffness.
The result of the measurement is shown in kilo-Pascal (kPa) indicating the degree of liver stiffness and in dB/min for the fat conten of the liver.