Health Care

FibroScan Detects Fatty Liver Disease

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If you struggle with your weight, you aren’t alone. In fact, researchers estimate that about 3.12 billion people, or 39% of the global population, are overweight or obese. It is estimated that the obesity rate will rise more than 50% by the year 2035. We know it isn’t easy to lose weight. But it’s important for your well-being.

Being overweight or obese can cause many different health problems, including metabolic dysfunction associated steatotic liver disease (MASLD), formerly known as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. MASLD is a condition in which fat accumulates in the liver. Patients with MASLD carries a high risk of type 2 diabetes, coronary artery disease and chronic kidney disease. They’re also more likely to develop liver fibrosis that can lead to cirrhosis (scarring of the liver), liver failure and liver cancer.

Here's how to find out if you have MASLD — and what you can do about it if you do.

Try a Non-Invasive Test Instead of a Liver Biopsy

If your primary care provider suspects you have MASLD, you’ll need a test to determine the extent of your condition. A liver biopsy is the gold standard for diagnosing MASLD, however it carries a risk for bleeding, infection, perforation.

AdventHealth offers another option: FibroScan is a non-invasive screening tool that assesses liver health and function. FibroScan can be done in outpatient setting and takes 15-20 minutes. The technician places a probe on the skin over the liver area, and the probe delivers a series of painless pulses directly into the liver, determining the rate at which sound frequencies pass through it. The result can help in assessing how much fat and fibrosis (scarring) is in your liver.

“Many patients are hesitant to undergo liver biopsy because they’re afraid it will be painful and carries a risk of complications,” said Dr. Muhammad, Gastroenterologist and Hepatologist at AdventHealth Tampa. “FibroScan takes away that concern because it’s simple, painless and accurate exam without any risk of complications.”

Non-invasive FibroScan can detect fatty liver disease

An added benefit is that most insurance companies cover the cost of FibroScan for patients who have diabetes or are considered at risk for liver disease.

“It’s very important for us to diagnose MASLD as soon as possible,” Dr. Muhammad continued. “Early diagnosis and treatment is the key to prevent further liver damage and liver failure.”

Treatment for Fatty Liver Disease

The best way to treat MASLD is to lose weight by changing your lifestyle. The first step is to adopt a healthy diet including foods that are low in saturated fat. It’s also important to be physically active.

In addition to lifestyle changes, there are other options for treating fatty liver disease.

“While the Food and Drug Administration hasn’t yet approved any medications that specifically treat MASLD, there are weight loss drugs available that have been successful in decreasing liver fat content in clinical trials” said Dr. Muhammad

If you’re morbidly obese and unsuccessful in losing weight, you may be a candidate for weight loss surgery, such as sleeve gastrectomy or Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery. Studies have shown complete reversal of fatty liver and fibrosis following weight loss surgery.

Adnan Muhammad, MD

Adnan Muhammad, MD is a fellowship-trained gastroenterologist and hepatologist with over 12 years of experience and board certifications in internal medicine, gastroenterology and transplant hepatology. He treats patients ages 18 and older for a wide variety of liver and gastrointestinal conditions. He also has advanced fellowship training and interest in hepatology.
Dr. Muhammad is dedicated to providing the best, personalized care to his patients in a timely manner. He believes the fastest and best results yield from mutual and active participation between the patient and the care team.
In his spare time, Dr. Muhammad enjoys traveling, sports and movies. He is also fluent in both English and Urdu.

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