The FibroScan is non-invasive diagnostic tool that can be performed on any individual who may be suffering from NASH or a similar condition. Diagnostic tests using the FibroScan offer increased accuracy in the staging and diagnosis of liver disease. It also does not involve any physical strain or required down-time, making it a much more affordable and effective alternative to liver biopsy.
Liver biopsy has long been the gold standard to stage fibrosis in the liver. In particular, liver biopsy has been used to evaluate patients with viral hepatitis (particularly those with hepatitis B virus [HBV] or hepatitis C virus [HCV] infection), to stage disease, and to determine whether treatment should be pursued. The disadvantages of biopsy are that it is an invasive test, it requires the patient to be hospitalized for half a day, it is expensive, and it is associated with certain risks, such as pain and bleeding. (While bleeding due to liver biopsy is uncommon, it poses a significant risk when it occurs.) In addition, a liver biopsy samples only a very small piece of the liver, which can lead to incorrect staging if this sample is not representative of the rest of the liver. Thus, liver biopsy can lead to sampling error, which may result in either overstaging or understaging of fibrosis; sampling error may occur in up to 25-30% of liver biopsies. Another limitation of liver biopsy is that different pathologists can interpret the same sample differently, which can result in discrepancies in liver disease staging.