Your Liver Health and Liver Fibrosis


View this video to learn a little about The LiverLab





An Overview of the Liver

  • It performs over 500 chemical functions in the body
  • It filters and detoxifies the blood
  • It releases chemicals and nutrients into the body when needed
  • It regulates fat, protein and carbohydrate metabolism
  • It stores vitamins, minerals and cholesterol
  • It regulates hormones
  • It makes bile needed for digesting fats

The liver has a remarkable ability to regenerate itself. However, a process called fibrosis associated with certain chronic liver diseases (CLD) results in the secretion of collagen (scar tissue) into the spaces in the liver. As the mass of scar tissue takes up more and more space in the liver, the dead scar tissue crowds out the living liver cells (hepatocytes) and also constricts flow in the blood, lymph and bile vessels of the organ. This can result in advanced fibrosis and eventually lead to cirrhosis. Advanced cirrhosis may result in liver failure and end-stage liver disease. The four most common diseases associated with fibrosis generation in the liver are viral Hepatitis C and B, Alcoholism, and NASH (Non-Alcoholic SteatoHepatitis, which is steatosis, a fatty deposit in the liver, caused by obesity), also known as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).

What is liver fibrosis and why early detection is key?

Liver fibrosis is a process whereby collagen (scar tissue) is secreted by special cells (myofibroblasts) in the liver in response to oxidative stress. Oxidative stress may be triggered by chronic liver disease (CLD). The major causes of CLD are viral hepatitis C and B, alcoholic related liver disease, NASH (or NAFLD). Over time, this process can result in cirrhosis of the liver. Liver Cirrhosis may progress to a permanent and irreversible condition called End-Stage Liver Disease. Once cirrhosis is developed, it can cause constriction of blood flow into the liver resulting in ascites (a build-up of fluid in the abdominal cavity), bleeding from esophageal varices (abnormally enlarged veins in the lower part of the esophagus), and it can also cause impaired liver function such as decreased protein metabolism resulting in elevated blood nitrogen levels. The risk of liver cancer is greatly increased once cirrhosis develops. Many cirrhotic patients with end-stage liver disease opt for liver transplantation. The traditional method for staging liver fibrosis is biopsy. However, there are disadvantages associated with doing liver biopsies due to risks of complications such as bleeding and pain. An alternative to liver biopsy is the FibroScan. A biopsy may be performed only once every 3-5 years, while a FibroScan may be given every six months. The FibroScan is FDA-approved and it is a safe, painless, and non-invasive procedure. The result is

What is FibroScan?

FibroScan is an FDA-approved device to measure Fibrosis staging. The FibroScan has been widely used in Europe and Canada over the last decade and it is considered a preferable alternative to liver biopsy due to its decreased risk of complications. FibroScan is also referred to as liver ultrasonographic elastography. It is a non-invasive technique that administers a 50 MHz frequency wave into the liver from the transducer of an ultrasound probe. The velocity of the sound wave (in meters per second) correlates with a liver stiffness measurement expressed in kilopascals. The higher number of kilopascals indicates the stiffer the liver and the more severity of fibrosis. There are four stages of Fibrosis. Stage 4 fibrosis is called Cirrhosis. With new expensive drug treatments now available that boast high (90%) SVR rates (sustained virological response), patients will want to track and monitor their fibrosis staging to avoid advanced cirrhosis and end stage liver disease.

Why do you need a FibroScan ® examination?

Prevention is key. To prevent irreversible liver damage, it is important to monitor your liver fibrosis staging. You need a FibroScan examination every six months if you have any of the following conditions:

  • Hepatitis C or Hepatitis B
  • Alcohol related liver disease
  • Obesity related liver disease know as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD or NASH)
  • Other types of chronic liver disease such as autoimmune hepatitis
  • The FibroScan examination provides immediate results of your fibrosis staging. This allows your physician to diagnose and monitor the progression of the disease, and to provide appropriate treatment when necessary.

    What to expect with the FibroScan ® examination:



  • The FibroScan examination process is fast, safe, painless and non-invasive. It takes 5-10 minutes. The key to FibroScan's accuracy lies in the fact that it takes the average of 10 separate measurements, whereas a biopsy takes only one measurement.
  • You lie on your back with your right arm above your head.
  • The Physician applies a water-based gel to the skin and places the probe onto the upper right side of your abdomen
  • At the end of the examination, your doctor will evaluate and interpret the result
  • Nutritional/lifestyle information is available upon request
  • Review of Standard-Of-Care treatments options and nutritional management treatment options may also be reviewed upon request
  • How is the progress of the liver disease monitored?

    It is recommended that patients repeat a FibroScan examination every six months to monitor the state of their liver and to track the treatment progress. Your doctor will make recommendations based on individual case basis.

    Biopsy versus FibroScan ®

    Here is a simple comparison of a liver biopsy and FibroScan®


    Comparison Item Liver Biopsy FibroScan
    Results:    Results can take weeks Immediate Results
    Invasive / Pain:    Invasive Procedure Painless and Non-Invasive
    Risks / Complications:    Risks involved such as bleeding and pain. No Complications Involved
    Hospitalization:    Hospitalization Required NO Hospitalization Required (procedure only takes a matter of minutes)
    Bed Rest:    Bed Rest Required NO Bed Rest Required
    Time Off Work:    Requires time away from work. NO time away from work required.
    Sampling Errors:    Likely sampling errors NO sampling errors
    Repeat Procedures:    Not easy to repeat Easy and safe to repeat
    Cost:    Significantly higher cost to patient. Low cost to patient.





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    Contact The LiverLab

     
    844-2LIVERLAB
    (844) 254-8375 (toll free)

    Monday to Friday: 9:00am-12:00pm & 1:30pm-5pm

    FAX: 1 (888) 713-2152
    (HIPAA Compliant Secure Fax)

    6991 E. Camelback Road
    Suite D-300
    Scottsdale, AZ 85251

    Located above the west side of Mastro's City Hall Steakhouse at Scottsdale Fashion Square at Camelback Rd. and Goldwater (southwest corner).

    Use our Email Contact Form HERE to contact us 24 hours a day.

    The LiverLab, located in Scottsdale, Arizona, is currently the only independant Liver FibroScan lab facility in the Metro Phoenix region. In addition to Scottsdale and Phoenix, AZ, the LiverLab services patients from the entire Phoenix Metro area to include Tempe, AZ; Mesa, AZ; Gilbert and Chandler, AZ and Glendale, Peoria, Surprise and Sun City, Arizona as well as other cities.



     
     

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