August 14, 2013

Saint Louis University Liver Center Using FibroScan to Gauge Liver Stiffness

ST. LOUIS - Physicians at the Saint Louis University Liver Center have a non-invasive option to diagnose liver disease, using an ultrasound-like technique to measure liver stiffness rather than performing an invasive biopsy. Using a process called “transient elastography,” SLUCare gastroenterologists are able to measure liver stiffness using sound waves.

The technology – FibroScan – was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in April.

“It’s very similar to an ultrasound,” says Brent Tetri, M.D., director of the division of gastroenterology and hepatology at Saint Louis University School of Medicine.

“We participated in trials as a testing site to determine the technology’s quality over the past several years and we have a lot of experience with it.”

By measuring liver stiffness, physicians can assess all pathologies causing liver scarring and cirrhosis, including metabolic syndrome and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, chronic viral hepatitis and excess alcohol intake.

“This is a great option for following patients long-term,” says Tetri.

Previously, patients would need an invasive biopsy to diagnose the extent of liver disease.

Bruce Bacon, M.D., SLUCare gastroenterologist and co-director of the Saint Louis University Liver Center, says although biopsies are typically only done every four to five years, they are an invasive procedure and can be painful.

“The FibroScan doesn’t require any incisions or needles and can be repeated as necessary to follow a patient’s progression,” says Bacon.

For more information about FibroScan or transient elastography, call 314-977-4440. Current SLUCare patients may call 314-577-6000.

Nationally accredited and with more than 500 physicians, SLUCare is the medical practice group of Saint Louis University School of Medicine. The school educates physicians and biomedical scientists, conducts medical research, and provides health care on a local, national and international level.

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