Elastography – Purpose, Clinical Applications and Risk


Elastography is a non-invasive medical imaging technique class that determine the soft tissue’s elastic properties and stiffness. The primary purpose is that whether the tissue is hard or soft will give diagnostic results about the presence of the disease.

For example, cancerous tumours will often be more complex than the normal tissue, and diseases in liver tissues are stiffer than healthy ones. Fibrosis is a liver condition that reduces blood flow and accumulates the extracellular matrix protein.

It causes the buildup of scar tissue in the liver. If left untreated, fibrosis can lead to chronic severe liver diseases—these scar liver fibrosis results in cancer and liver failure.

But an early liver elastography test can help in the proper treatment and reduce the risk of liver failure.

What are the Applications of Elastography?

The purpose of elastography is the investigation of many disease conditions in the different organs. It provides additional diagnostic information about the disease severity.

It helps to guide other health examinations like biopsies or replace this procedure.
Biopsies are invasive and painful removal of tissues from the internal organ can cause a risk of haemorrhage or infection.

In contrast, elastography is entirely non-invasive, and there are no chances of infection and bleeding. A liver elastography test is used to imagine a test that helps determine liver fibrosis.

ultrasound elastography

Particular types of fibroscan techniques are also helpful to identify musculoskeletal scanning, and they can map the mechanical properties of muscles and tendons.

Radiographic Techniques

Ultrasound Elastography 

Ultrasound elastography test uses sound waves to measure liver disease, including stiffness and fibrosis. The procedure of scanning fibrosis is named fibroscan.

Strain Fibroscan

It is also called static or compression fibroscan. It provides complete details on the stiffness present between the tissues.

Shear wave Fibroscan

It is also called the transient fibroscan. It is an emerging technology that gives details about the elasticity of tissues. Moreover, it accumulates the details by producing the radiofrequency force.

MR Fibroscan 

It is used with MRI is to determine the tissue stiffness. It uses shear waves radiofrequency impulse to map the tissue displacement in all directions of the organ, making it more precise than sono elastography.

MR elastography is one of the best radio techniques used in cases of liver fibrosis, where larger lesions can be possible even in the presence of ascites.

Uses Of Radiographic Techniques

  • Differentiating malignant tissues and benign neoplasms (mainly breast)
  • Diagnosis of early traumatic changes in muscles and tendons
  • Use the biopsy site to give more accurate information and minimise the negative biopsy rates
  • Assessing liver fibrosis and tissue elasticity
  • Assessing the liver cirrhosis and tumours

Why do You need an Elastography Scan?

Many people are suffering from fibrosis but don’t have any symptoms. Sometimes they leave untreated their fibrosis that further causes the scar in the liver tissue and results in liver cirrhosis.

liver fibrosis

Cirrhosis is the term used to describe excessive scarring of the liver. It is frequently caused by excessive alcohol abuse or hepatitis. In severe cases, cirrhosis can cause liver failure.

Generally, cirrhosis does not have the symptoms. So you may need this test if you have other live disease symptoms.

  • Yellowing of the skin is known as jaundice
  • Fatigue
  • Itching
  • Bruising easily
  • Heavy nosebleeds
  • Swelling in the legs
  • Weight loss
  • Confusion

What happens during elastography?

During an ultrasound (Fibroscan) elastography:

  • Your radiology technician will ask you to lie on an examination table on your back, with your right abdominal area exposed.
  • A radiology technician will use a special spread gel on your stomach over the area.
  • They will use a wand-like device, called a transducer, on the exposed area of skin around your liver.
  • They will start moving the probe to deliver a series of sound waves inside the liver. The waves will be entering your liver and coming back. You cannot hear the voice of waves because the waves are high pitched.
  • You may feel a little flick as the procedure is done, but it does not hurt you. 
  • The waves are recorded on the screen of the monitor to analyse.
  • The procedure will take 5-10 minutes only.

Abdominal Ultrasound with Elastography

Abdominal ultrasound is also a procedure for taking images of abdominal pain organs, including the liver, gall bladder, spleen, pancreas, and kidneys.

Abdominal ultrasound with elastography is the procedure of using non-invasive techniques in ultrasound to map the fibrosis and stiffness of organs present in the stomach.

How much Does a Liver Fibroscan Cost?

A liver fibroscan cost ranges start from $220 to $300. The procedure of fibro is performed with the particular instrument to analyse the tissue stiffness and fibrosis.

The cost of ultrasound elastography in India starts from 2000 to 6000, depending on the cities and expanses.

Is the Fibrosis of the Liver Curable?

Liver fibrosis is the process of scarring of healthy liver tissue. It is the initial step of liver cirrhosis.

Once the liver tissue starts damaging, it cannot regenerate itself. The diet and medication help to save further damage to the liver.

Treatment of liver fibrosis depends on the underlying cause of the fibrosis. For example, if a person takes heavy alcohol, the doctor may ask the patient to stop alcohol and focus on a healthy diet.

Your doctor may prescribe a few classes of drugs known as antibiotics, which help to minimise liver scarring.

Medication such as ACE inhibitors, tocopherol, and PPAR-alpha agonist helps to reduce the underlying medical condition.

What is the main Clinical Indication for Liver Elastography?

When a  liver occurs, the warning of fibrosis staging of the organ; moreover, a patient with chronic viral hepatitis and fatty liver need a fibroscan to map out the presence or absence of fibrosis.

Some clinical indications for liver fibroscan are given below:-

  • Jaundice
  • Coagulopathy
  • Elevation of aminotransferase
  • Fibrosis
  • Fatty liver

What Does the Result Mean?

Fibroscan measures the stiffness and scars in the liver tissues.  If your liver tissues get stiffer, the chances of fibrosis are more. The result can show no stiffness, mild stiffness, and severe stiffness of liver tissues.

After the fibroscan, your healthcare practitioner may order more diagnostic tests, including liver function tests, biopsy, and another blood test, to ensure the stage of fibrosis present in the liver.

If your results represent mild to moderate scarring or fibrosis, you may ask to follow the instructions carefully to protect the liver from severe infections.

You have to follow some precautionary steps that your doctor would instruct.  These include:-

  • If you are an alcoholic, you have to stop taking alcohol.
  • Do not illegal drugs and do not take medication without consulting the doctor.
  • Take the proper diet and fruits. (avoid using more edible oil and junk food)
  • Doing exercise is mandatory. you should T
  • Take the prescribed medication on time)

Do not take long a long time to start the treatment. The more time you will take, it can go mild to severe. You can protect yourself from going to the stage of liver transplantation if you go for early treatment.

If you have any doubts and hesitate, talk to your doctor.

How Accurate Is Liver Fibroscan?

However, liver fibroscan helps map out only mild to moderate liver fibrosis. As per the clinical study, the accuracy of rate is 90 to 95% in the diagnosis of cirrhosis. It can map out both hepatitis B and C.

Is There Anything Else You Need to Know About an Elastography?

While elastography is generally performed to determine the problems of life, including fibrosis, fatty liver, and cirrhosis, apart from this, it may also use to diagnose problems in other organs, including the thyroid, IBS, prostate, and breast cancer.

It is also used to determine the situation of pregnancy and baby movement.

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