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Beacon Consultants Clinic, located at Beacon Hospital in Dublin, has become the first private facility in Ireland to offer Fibrosca, a screening that potentially eradicates the need for a liver biopsy in many cases. It was launched by Professor Suzanne Norris, Ireland’s leading Hepatologist and Gastroenterologist, as part of her Liver Wellness Programme.

The device will measure liver stiffness/elasticity as part of the diagnostic process. It is a painless and non-invasive method for evaluating fibrosis or scarring in the liver; using ultrasound to create waves and measure the speed at which these waves are reflected by the liver. As it is non-invasive, a Fibroscan can be repeated regularly and without risk, unlike a liver biopsy. A particular benefit of this pain-free test is that the results will be available in 15 minutes, while a full consultant’s report is available within 48 hours.

The WHO has claimed that Ireland will become the most obese country in Europe over the next decade, which means that the population will be at a greater risk of liver disease. Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) is the most common cause of liver disease, it is believed to affect more than one in five people globally, and patients who are obese, overweight and diabetic are at the highest risk. NAFLD is a common condition that affects up to 30 per cent of the general population and is the most common cause of chronic liver disease in developed countries.

Professor Suzanne Norris stated: “Detecting liver scarring (fibrosis) early provides an opportunity to adapt your lifestyle to prevent it becoming more widespread, leading to an even more severe chronic liver disease”. She continued by expressing her hope to see some of the misperceptions surrounding liver disease eliminated in future, as it is not merely a condition caused by excessive alcohol consumption.