Liver elastography is a non-invasive procedure that uses low-frequency sound waves to determine the flexibility of the liver. A lack of flexibility in liver tissue is an important indicator of fibrosis, or scarring of the liver. Fibrosis can be caused by several different conditions, including chronic hepatitis, alcohol abuse, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and others.
Left unchecked, conditions that cause fibrosis can lead to cirrhosis, which is advanced liver scarring that may be life-threatening. Cirrhosis can lead to serious health issues including portal hypertension, liver failure and liver cancer. Read more about cirrhosis.
How Liver Elastography is Performed
Elastography is usually performed while the patient is awake. With the patient lying on their back, a wand-like ultrasound source is placed on the upper abdomen, usually after the application of a gel that allows the instrument to glide over the skin. The ultrasound source then uses low-frequency sound to generate a vibration that travels through the body. The vibrations are reflected back by liver tissue to the ultrasound source, with the speed the vibrations return indicating the stiffness of the liver tissue. The test usually takes around 10 minutes, and is completely painless.
FibroScan® Advanced Elastography at Hoag
At Hoag, we offer patients the advanced diagnostic capabilities of FibroScan® (AKA transient elastography), the first FDA-approved device in the U.S. that provides a painless, non-invasive method of testing for liver scarring without the side effects and complications of a needle biopsy. Learn more about FibroScan®