FibroScan® is the tradename for an ultrasound examination used to assess liver fibrosis (hardness and stiffness) and steatosis (level of fat present in the liver). This noninvasive exam uses technology called vibration-controlled transient elastrophy (VCTE) to measure liver stiffness, and controlled attenuation parameter (CAP) to assess and quantify steatosis.
With VCTE, an ultrasound probe emits a mechanical pulse at the surface of the skin to measure the condition of the liver through sound waves. The computer displays a two-dimensional picture of the liver and analyzes the data from ten separate readings taken of the liver. An immediate measurement of the hardness of the liver, using a range from 1.5 to 75 kPa correlated to fibrosis, is given to the physician. The harder the liver, the more serious the fibrosis is likely to be. Cirrhosis becomes a concern at 12 kPa.
CAP is currently the only noninvasive means to quantify steatosis. Prior to the development of CAP, conventional ultrasound was the only way to detect the presence of steatosis, and quantification was not even possible. VCTE and CAP are performed simultaneously and do not extend the duration of the test.
FibroScan® is easy, painless, and quick, taking less than ten minutes. It assists in diagnosing and monitoring the progression of liver disease. When close follow-up is needed, the exam may be safely repeated every six to twelve months. This follow-up helps monitor the progression of liver disease and, if treatment or lifestyle changes have taken place, helps to determine how successful those measures have been.