The scan is quick, easy and painless. Our Love Your Liver roadshow unit has private rooms for people to have their scan. You will need to pull up your top so the nurse can scan your tummy, where your liver is.
The nurse holds a probe against your tummy. It’s about the size of a microphone. The probe sends out a pulse and measures how long it takes to pass through your liver. The pulse feels like a flick on your skin.
The nurse can read your result straight away. They will tell you what it means and whether there is anything you should do next.
There are lots of things that can damage your liver. These include common things like drinking alcohol or carrying extra weight. Liver damage can also be caused by viruses such as hepatitis B and C, genetic diseases passed on through families, and problems with your immune system.
Most of the time liver damage doesn’t cause any long-term problems because your liver is a special organ and it can repair itself when it gets damaged.
But your liver can only take so much. If it keeps getting damaged, your liver won’t be able to keep repairing the damage and it will get scarred instead. These scars are medically known as fibrosis – the ‘Fibro’ in FibroScan.
A healthy liver is soft and squishy, but scar tissue is stiffer and harder. The FibroScan sends out a pulse called a shear wave and measures how long it takes to pass through your liver. The pulse travels quickly through healthy liver, but scar tissue slows it down. So the more scarring there is, the more slowly the pulse travels, and the higher the FibroScan reading will be.
Our Love Your Liver roadshow events are designed as an opportunity to learn more about liver health, including the chance to have a scan of your liver if you wish. However, the FibroScan check carried out at the event is not diagnostic, which is why a GP follow-up is recommended to anyone whose scan indicates potential damage to the liver.
It is important that any potential damage is checked because in a clinical setting, practitioners generally use a variety of different tests including blood tests, FibroScan, ultrasound and in some cases biopsy to make a diagnosis. If further investigation is required, your GP will arrange the relevant tests and follow-up.
The scoring scale goes from 1.5 to 75 kilopascals (KPa). There is not a fixed score that all doctors use to decide whether someone is likely to have liver damage or not. Different doctors will decide who needs more tests in slightly different ways. This page tells you about what we do on our Love Your Liver Roadshow.
Generally, a score of 8KPa or more means you might have liver damage. Remember that this isn’t a diagnosis. You should have more tests to confirm whether your liver is damaged, and if so what caused it and how it should be treated. To help you prepare for your appointment, take a look at our advice on questions to ask your doctor.
If you need more tests, try not to worry too much. Liver disease can be treated, especially when it is found at an early stage. If you have questions or want to talk to someone, call our nurse-led helpline on 0800 652 7330.
Your score tells you about your liver on the day you had the scan. It can be affected by things like having had a big meal recently. And it can’t say what might happen in the future.
On our Love Your Liver roadshow, scores fall into 3 groups.
A score below 8.0 suggests your liver probably does not have any scarring.
Your score is in the healthy range. If your screener questionnaire showed that you could be at higher risk of liver disease, it’s a good idea to take steps now to reduce your risk in the future. This could be things like cutting down on alcohol, eating healthily or being more physically active.
To find out more about the risk of liver disease and get tips on making healthy changes visit our risk factors and causes information.
A score between 8.0 and 10.5 suggests your liver may have some damage.
Your score is outside the healthy range. It’s important that you see your GP so they can check your liver health. The nurse will give you a letter for your GP that explains the scan you had today and your results.
Your GP will usually recommend you have some blood tests to look for signs of liver damage. They might also refer you for a scan such as an ultrasound.
A score of 10.5 or more suggests you could have serious liver damage.
See your GP as soon as possible and show them the letter we have given you. They should refer you to your local hospital liver unit for more tests. These will probably include blood tests and you may have an ultrasound scan.
Remember that this result needs to be checked. Do your best not to worry and remember we are here for you – whether you need answers or just a friendly chat. Find out about support for you.