16th June 2009
“Quick and easy” alternative to biopsy provides accurate assessment of vital organ
Bristol patients worried about the state of their liver through alcohol consumption, ill health and increasingly obesity are being offered a new non-invasive test to check for organ damage.
Chronic liver disease is an increasing cause of morbidity and mortality but standard liver function blood tests lack specificity and sensitivity in detecting it.
Now Spire Bristol Hospital, the Glen, is offering an Enhanced Liver Fibrosis (ELF) test. This is a simple blood test that calculates the presence of liver fibrosis and clinical trials have shown a greater than 90% correlation with results obtained by liver biopsy
Although the gold standard investigation is liver biopsy it is invasive, can be painful and is associated rarely with serious complications. For many years liver biopsy has been the only way of uncovering liver scarring, a process which eventually leads to cirrhosis. Cirrhosis itself is associated with the development of liver cancer, chronic confusion, fluid retention and significant intestinal haemorrhage.
A non-invasive test to identify patients with early stages of liver scarring before cirrhosis is reached would allow more successful targeted therapy to those at risk of liver disease.
Also it is increasingly the case that conditions such as obesity and type II diabetes are associated with liver scarring and cirrhosis independent of the results of standard liver blood tests.
Dr Robert Przemioslo, consultant Gastroenterologist & Hepatologist at Spire Bristol Hospital, said the ELF test was a quick and easy procedure compared to the traditional biopsy liver test.
“Performing a traditional liver biopsy is a painful experience for the patient and does not always provide the most accurate results,” he said.
“But because the ELF test instead uses a blood sample it can be used at regular intervals for the same patient and helps monitor the progression of the liver’s tissue repair.”