FibroScan: the virtual hepatic biopsy

Written by: Top Doctors®
Edited by: Top Doctors®

FibroScan is a non-invasive technique that detects possible diseases of the liver using ultrasound waves. This virtual liver biopsy can prevent complications such as cirrhosis, steatosis, among others.


FibroScan is a device that uses sound waves (ultrasound) to measure the hardness and elasticity of the liver and, depending on its state (the hardness and elasticity), enables the diagnosis of diseases such as fibrosis, steatosis and liver cirrhosis.

This technique is also known as a "virtual hepatic biopsy," because it avoids the need to perform a guided and invasive liver biopsy, which can lead to multiple side effects (such as pain and bleeding).


Procedure and interpretation of results


The technique consists of sending a mechanical pulse, which initiates an ultrasound wave that is transmitted by the liver. The heavier the liver tissue, the faster the wave diffuses and, therefore, tissue damage is greater. The result is expressed in kilopascals (kPa) immediately. There are four possible phases of patient status:

  1. If the value is less than 6-7 kPa, there is a low risk of progression of fibrosis and it is advised not to start treatment.
  2. Between the values of 7 and 9.4 kPa, moderate fibrosis is indicated. It is advisable to test with FibroScan periodically, in order to evaluate the progression and the need for treatment.
  3. If the margin is between 9.5 and 12 kPa, fibrosis is in an advanced state and antiviral treatment is necessary or advisable.
  4. If the result exceeds 12-14 kPa, it means that fibrosis is severe and there is a high risk of cirrhosis, so treatment is of an urgent nature.


Before and after the test


The patient needs to have an empty stomach, and it is not recommended for pregnant women, patients with ascites, or patients that have implanted medical devices.

FibroScan is not painful and is free of complications. The patient is only in the doctor's office for about fifteen minutes and the test does not require admission nor does it have any abrasive or invasive side effects.


By Topdoctors

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