How a quick & painless Fibroscan can prove crucial to your liver health

Mr Patrick Kennedy Gastroenterologist and Hepatologist Consultant and Leading Expert in Liver disease at The GI Unit at the Hospital of St John & St Elizabeth in London, discusses the importance of a Fibroscan and how this quick 10 minute non-invasive test can highlight and detect potential early liver related problems before they get worse.

What may prompt someone to have a Fibroscan?

A Fibroscan is recommended for any patient with abnormal liver function tests or where there is a suspicion of liver disease. A good clinical history is often enough to identify risk factors for liver disease. For example, in patients who drink to excess and have normal liver function tests, there may be liver damage which is not reflected in the standard blood tests. It is well recognised that these blood tests can be normal in chronic liver disease or cirrhosis.

What does the scan look for?

A Fibroscan quantifies liver fibrosis or “scarring”. It is a non-invasive test which can be performed in less than ten minutes. Historically speaking, the majority of patients underwent liver biopsy to assess liver scarring. The presence of scarring of the liver is a worrying finding as it puts the patient at risk of progressive liver disease, cirrhosis and liver failure – with the presence of significant liver scarring (or cirrhosis) being a risk factor for liver cancer.  The Fibroscan allows us to quantify the amount of scarring and make appropriate management decisions. In some patients, this could be simple lifestyle advice to ensure mild fibrosis does not progress to moderate or severe scarring.

How does the machine work?

A probe is placed at the skin’s surface. Using a combination of an elastic wave (generated by a mechanical pulse) and ultrasound technology, a numerical value is recorded. The stiffer the liver, the higher the value. The degree of stiffness of the liver is an indicator of damage, from whatever cause. Ten valid readings must be recorded and the test itself is completely painless.

How long does it take/what can a patient expect from their consultation?

The Fibroscan is a simple, non-invasive painless test, which provides vital information about your liver health. It usually takes less than 10 minutes to perform and the results can be discussed with the patient at the time of the test. This means no waiting around for results and in many cases no need for a second consultation.

What issues/conditions could the scan highlight and what would be the next step?

The Fibroscan assesses liver fibrosis or “scarring”, which is essentially liver damage. If significant damage is detected, the patient will need specialist input to address the causes of the liver damage and manage the condition appropriately. In cases of no scarring or mild fibrosis only, lifestyle intervention is often enough to prevent the development of liver disease or avoid disease progression.

What are the key benefits of having a Fibroscan at HJE?

The Gi Unit based at the Hospital of St John and St Elizabeth uses state-of-the-art facilities and offers a Consultant led Fibroscan service, meaning after undergoing the test you have the opportunity to discuss the results directly with your leading Liver expert at the time of examination.

Book a Fibroscan at The GI Unit

The GI Unit is made up of a team of twelve world-leading Gastroenterologists, Upper and Lower GI Surgeons, Radiologists and Oncologists including Mr Patrick Kennedy. To book a personalised appointment with a Liver expert you can call them on 020 7078 3802 or email

Flexible appointment times are available.

Published on


Latest news

Life-saving surgery continues during the coronavirus pandemic

Mark Williams, Chief Audiologist at The Tinnitus Clinic, is featured in an article in The i which...

UHDB Consultant helps save his patient's eyesight – not once but twice!

How a quick & painless Fibroscan can prove crucial to your liver health