Over 100 million Americans have liver disease, but only 4.5 million know it. If you’re one of the unaware millions, you could be missing an opportunity to treat the problem and avoid liver failure and cancer.
We can help.
Dr. Ayub Hussain and our Northside Gastroenterology Associates team can quickly and painlessly assess your liver health with FibroScan®. Here’s how it works.
Signs of liver disease
Your liver is bigger than you think — about the size and shape of a football. It plays two primary roles and performs hundreds of functions: As an organ, it filters your blood; as a gland, it produces hormones and proteins. Your liver also produces bile to aid digestion, metabolizes carbohydrates and fats, regulates blood volume, and stores vitamins and glycogen as energy reserves.
When something goes wrong with your liver, these vital systems break down, and you face critical health problems. Liver conditions occur for several reasons, including overloading it with toxic chemicals like iron, copper, and alcohol. Autoimmune diseases and viruses can attack your liver, leading to serious complications and scarring (cirrhosis).
Not all liver conditions have symptoms, but the most common signs of a liver problem are:
- Yellow skin (jaundice)
- Low blood pressure
- Swollen ankles and legs
- Itchy skin
- Dark urine
- Weakness, confusion, and fatigue
If you exhibit these symptoms, Dr. Hussain may recommend a FibroScan to evaluate your liver health.
What to expect from a FibroScan
A FibroScan is simply a diagnostic test to gather information about your liver, including detecting liver damage and disease. It uses state-of-the-art ultrasound technology to assess your liver from outside your body. The ultrasound energy penetrates your skin painlessly and measures your liver’s stiffness, which tells Dr. Hussain whether you might have early scarring (fibrosis) or cirrhosis.
Although we give you complete instructions to prepare for your FibroScan, here are the highlights:
- Fast for at least three hours before your appointment
- Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing
- Relax on the exam table on your back
- Raise your right arm above your head and expose the right side of your abdomen
- We apply a water-based gel to your skin and place the FibroScan probe over your liver
- You may feel a slight vibration as the FibroScan measures your liver
That’s it. The test only takes about five minutes, and the results are instant.
What the FibroScan results mean
The FibroScan delivers two scores: a cap score and a fibrosis score.
The cap score indicates fatty changes in your liver; the lower your score (e.g., 5% or lower), the better. However, Dr. Hussain also considers your cap score relative to your steatosis grade (liver fattiness). The two numbers together tell us the portion of your liver affected.
The fibrosis score tells us how stiff your liver is, ranging from normal (no scarring) to moderate/severe (reversible scarring) to advanced (chronic cirrhosis).
These scores help Dr. Hussain diagnose various diseases and their stages of development, such as:
- Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease
- Alcoholic liver disease
- Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis
- Hepatitis B
- Hepatitis C
Depending on the results, Dr. Hussain may order additional tests, such as a biopsy, blood test, or imaging scans, to confirm your diagnosis.
If you suspect a liver problem, don’t wait to schedule an appointment at Northside Gastroenterology Associates in Houston, Texas. Book online or call.