A fibroscan is like an ultrasound machine. A healthy liver is very soft and squeezable like a sponge, whereas a damaged liver particularly one with cirrhosis is much harder like a cricket ball or soft wood.
The Fibroscan involves putting jelly over the chest wall (like a fibroscan) and applying an ultrasound probe. The side of the chest is flicked with the probe and this sends a shockwave over the liver. The wave generated passes over the liver and back to the probe. The more damaged the liver the quicker the wave is transferred across the liver and back.
This process generates a number as a unit of pressure (kilopascals) as it reflects how easy it is to squeeze the liver. Low numbers < 7KPa suggest no or only minimal scarring whilst numbers > 11.5 KPa might suggest advanced scarring or cirrhosis. Sometimes abnormal liver tests don’t cause liver damage so the fibroscan is a useful test to re-assure patients that even if the blood tests are abnormal the patient does not have any liver damage.
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