A FibroScan is a type of ultrasound scan used to identify signs of liver damage.

What is a FibroScan?

A FibroScan is a type of ultrasound scan used to identify signs of liver damage.

FibroScan uses a technique called transient elastography, which is an enhanced type of ultrasound scan. The scan measures the ‘stiffness’ of your liver, which is an indicator of liver scarring (known as liver fibrosis). Liver scarring develops over prolonged periods of damage to the liver, from chronic conditions such as hepatitis or cirrhosis.

This type of procedure is non-invasive, painless and has no downtime. It is a suitable alternative to liver biopsies.

You may be recommended a FibroScan if you have a chronic liver condition, such as hepatitis, cirrhosis, or alcoholic liver disease. The scan can be used to help identify how much liver damage you have.

How to prepare for a FibroScan

A FibroScan is quick, painless and non-invasive. There’s no sedation involved, so you will be able to leave immediately after your scan.

You will be advised not to eat or drink for at least two hours before your scan.

You won’t need to remove any clothes for the scan, but we will need access to your stomach – so it’s a good idea to wear something that can be easily pulled up. You won’t need to remove any jewellery.

What to expect at your FibroScan

You will lie on an examination table with your right arm positioned behind your head. A nurse will gently probe your stomach to find the best position for the scan, before applying a water-based gel to your abdomen.

A probe is then placed on the right side of the abdomen – you may feel a light vibration or pulsing as the scan is taken. Usually, the scan will be repeated to collect a minimum of 10 readings. Overall, the procedure takes between 10 to 20 minutes to complete.

You will be able to go home immediately after your FibroScan. Your results will be sent to your consultant, who will contact you to book a follow-up appointment.

FibroScan provides a score between two and 75 based on the stiffness of your liver – a ‘normal’ liver usually scores between two and seven. The stiffer your liver, the higher your score will be, with higher scores indicating greater levels of scarring and liver damage.  

A minimum of 10 readings will be taken to ensure the most accurate score is collected.  

Once your consultant has your score, they will explain what this means and grade your liver scarring based on the following:  

  • F0 – no scarring 
  • F1 – mild scarring
  • F2 – moderate scarring
  • F3 – severe scarring
  • F4 – cirrhosis or advanced scarring. 

FibroScan can’t be used to detect and diagnose liver cancer. However, it can identify advanced liver scarring, which is a risk factor for liver cancer. 

If you receive a poor result on your FibroScan, you will be swiftly referred on to our world-class Liver and Renal Centre.

Our centre is staffed with the UK’s best hepatologists, surgeons, and other supporting healthcare professionals, with patient treatment plans discussed and devised at expert-led multidisciplinary team (MDT) meetings.

We provide a wide range of advanced treatments, including robotic surgery, stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT), and private liver transplants, at our state-of-the-art South Kensington hospital.

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