Ultrasound-based Liver Elastography

What is it and why do I need it?

Ultrasound-based elastography is a non-invasive test that helps assess the health of your liver. Specifically, it uses ultrasound technology to estimate the degree of fibrosis or scarring that may be present in your liver from various liver diseases or conditions. It also provides a measurement of fat deposition (steatosis) in the liver. This information is then used by your gastroenterologist to individualize and optimize your treatment plan. For some patients, ultrasound-based elastography can replace liver-biopsy. 

There are two different ultrasound-based elastography machines at Huron Gastro: Fibroscan®  and Velacur™. Your physician will decide which is best for you.

Test results are always interpreted in conjunction with other clinical data, laboratory test results, and liver imaging in managing individual patients.

The risks

The scan is a completely non-invasive, simple and painless procedure that takes approximately 30 minutes to complete. Most patients with chronic liver disease can be assessed, but the test is not recommended or interpretable in patients with:

       Fluid in the abdomen (ascites)
       Acute hepatitis
       Right heart failure
       Severe obesity (BMI >45)
       Small rib spaces
       Inability to lie flat
       Difficulty breathing while laying flat
       Daily alcohol use

The preparation

Patients are asked to wear loose clothing and should be able to lie flat on an exam table for 30 minutes or more while the test is being performed. Patients are asked not to consume any liquids or solids for 4 hours before the test to increase the likelihood of obtaining reliable test results. The scan typically takes 20-30 minutes to complete, but patients should plan on being here for 1hr to allow time for preparation.

The test

The liver is located in the right upper abdomen under the rib cage. Patients are asked to lie flat on an examination table. A technician places a probe between the ribs on the right side of the lower chest wall. A series of painless pulses are then applied to the liver. The results are recorded on the equipment and liver stiffness and steatosis scores are generated. The scores are then interpreted by a qualified physician to estimate hepatic fibrosis and fat deposition.

After the test

After the procedure, you will be immediately discharged from the procedure area and be able to leave without any restrictions. You will be able to drive yourself home. The doctor who completed and interpreted the procedure will send the test results to the doctor who ordered your procedure. Results will be available in about one to two weeks.

Instructions for your review:

Ultrasound-based Liver Elastography Patient Flyer

Ultrasound-based Liver Elastography Preparation Instructions

Velacur Liver Imaging Scan Video: