Your liver is your body’s powerhouse. It works 24 hours a day to filter toxins, help with digestion, create energy from fuel you eat, and support your immune system.
Since your liver plays a key role in all the metabolic processes of the body, it is important that we take care to keep our livers pink, flexible, and healthy. At The Digestive Health Center of the Four States, Dr. Allan Weston and his team use two state-of-the-art ultrasound machines to detect liver problems early and set patients on the path to recovery. These ultrasound machines uses special software to measure the extent of liver scarring (as stiffness/elasticity) as well as fat content (steatosis scoring) with a non-invasive, pain-free procedure. These machines produce immediate results, so patients can begin taking control of liver problems sooner. In the past, doctors diagnosed liver scarring and its severity with a biopsy that does have some risk to it. It involves poking the liver with a large needle so there was risk of bleeding and there may be some pain or other complications. Patients had to take the whole day off work. The importance of knowing what your liver stiffness and fatty score is important because their presence increases the risk of developing liver cancer, or having a stroke or heart attack. The most severe case of liver scarring is known as cirrhosis. One of the most frightening things is sometimes severe liver scarring/cirrhosis is completely silent without any symptoms or signs. When it does manifest, symptoms include yellowing of the skin and severe fatigue. Cirrhosis of the liver was in the past associated with excessive alcohol consumption or the chronic Hepatitis C infection, but in the USA, the most common cause is NASH (nonalcoholic steatohepatitis) due to longstanding diabetes, obesity, and high blood pressure, and other factors. Fortunately, if detected early, liver scarring and fatty liver can be reversed or halted/stabilized with lifestyle changes and a Vitamin E regimen. The most effective treatment is weight loss, and sometimes we recommend bariatric surgery. If you are overweight, even losing just 10 pounds will have a big impact. Also, people should be sure to treat and control high blood pressure and diabetes properly. Our Center has over 4 years of extensive experience performing liver assessments with elastography and steatosis and are involved in four front clinical research surrounding these tools.