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What is it?

When the liver is chronically inflamed it can lead to thickening of the liver structure (fibrosis) and eventually scarring of the liver structure (Cirrhosis), as the liver tissue develops fibrosis then it stiffens. The Fibroscan is a way of measuring how stiff the liver is and can aid us in assessing the degree of fibrosis present.


What do I need it for?

There are two main reasons to perform a Fibroscan.

Firstly we use it as part of the diagnostic process, to see if there is evidence of fibrosis or cirrhosis of the liver when there is a suspicion the liver is at risk of inflammation (e.g. fatty liver, alcohol excess, positive autoimmune liver tests)

Fibroscan can also be used to monitor the progression or improvement of liver disease. For instance, if you have fatty liver and make lifestyle changes, a repeat Fibroscan can help us to see improvement.


How is it performed?

A Fibroscan is a “bedside” test, meaning it can be done at the time of your clinic appointment, or in a specialist nurse clinic within the outpatients department. We sometimes also undertake mobile scanning at local health centres.

You do not need to have any special preparation for the test and do not need to be “nil by mouth”.

You will be asked to lie on your back on the couch. You will have your stomach exposed and the person performing the scan will examine you to identify the best spot. This is usually on the right side of your abdomen between the ribs.

A water based gel will be applied to the scan area, this is cold. The person performing the scan will place the probe on the correct spot and when they are happy with the location, they will send an ultrasound pulse through the liver.

The pulse is not painful, it can sometimes feel like someone gently flicking your abdomen.

The scan operator may change location to get the best readings. We take an average of 10 readings (10 ultrasound pulses) to ensure we have the most accurate results. The test usually takes less than 5 minutes.

After the test there are no special instructions to follow, you can continue as normal.


How will I receive my results?

The scan operator may be able to give you the results immediately or may pass the results on to the doctor or nurse who requested the test for further analysis.

The results are interpreted along with the medical history, blood tests and any other results. No single test will diagnose the cause and extent of your liver disease.

In some cases we may not be able to get accurate readings from your test. In this instance the information will be passed onto the doctor or nurse who requested the test for them to decide the best next steps.


Will I need repeated tests?

Depending on the underlying cause of your liver disease, your initial score and the outcome of other tests, you may be required to have further Fibroscan tests, you will be informed if this is the case.


What if I do not want the test?

Fibroscan is a non-invasive test that is quick and can give us a good idea of the amount of liver damage you have, however, it is your choice if you do not wish to have the test.

You should discuss alternative options with your doctor or nurse specialist, these may include other ways of taking images of the liver, blood test monitoring or a liver biopsy. Alternative options will depend on the cause of your liver disease and the reason for performing the test.