Ultrasound in Hepatology
After the performance of Liver Function Tests (LFTs) the patient may be proposed to undergo a liver biopsy - if a FibroScan is not available - and if this is the case he may be checked with ultrasound first. Ultrasound is a non-invasive technique that creates an image of the liver and detects risks before any surgical steps are taken.
The picture is created by a probe that is placed on the top of the right half of the patient's abdomen. It sends out high-frequency sound waves, which reflect off body structures. The ultrasound is not painful, and it may take 10 - 15 minutes.
Due to of the recently available improved ultrasound technology and affordable ultrasound systems, a reduction in the use of computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may be possible.
The accuracy of liver ultrasound can be improved by echo-enhancing agents acting as strong reflectors to the ultrasound beam and enhancing the backscatter signal up to 30 dB. The real-time imaging technique of liver lesions allows a unique analysis of tumour perfusion. Liver tumours known to be hyperperfused in the arterial phase (e. g., focal nodular hyperplasia, hepatocellular carcinoma, and hyperperfused metastases) can be detected and characterised. Hypoperfused tumours (e. g., liver metastases of the gastrointestinal tract) can be recognised in the portal venous phase as less perfused "black spots".
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