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Published on December 15, 2015

Altru Health System First in North Dakota to Introduce and Offer FibroScan, A New Diagnostic Tool to Help People with Liver Disease

Grand Forks, N.DAltru Health System announces the availability of an approved technology that could eliminate painful and costly biopsies for patients with liver disease. The FibroScan is a painless, non-invasive liver scan, which measures the stiffness of a patient’s liver: a key factor in determining the condition and extent of a patient’s liver damage. It is administered with a probe that looks and feels much like what pregnant woman experience during an ultrasound.  

A FibroScan test eliminates the need for a liver biopsy, where a 6-inch needle is inserted into the liver to extract a sample for testing under a microscope. In addition to being painful, biopsies are expensive. FibroScan tests are dramatically less expensive. 

The American Liver Foundation estimates that 1 in 10 Americans has liver disease. Liver disease is the fourth leading cause of death among adults 45-54. More than 6 million children in the U.S. have non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Because Hepatitis C (a liver disease) is so prevalent in baby boomers, last year the CDC issued new recommendations that every baby boomer be tested. The FibroScan could dramatically impact the way liver patients are treated. 

“FibroScan is a cost efficient technique to assess for fibrosis and cirrhosis of the liver. The painless procedure takes about 10 minutes to complete in the office and the results are immediately available for the patient,” says Kamrin Macki, NP, from Altru’s Gastroenterology Clinic.  “This test is beneficial for many different liver diseases; however, in patients with hepatitis C, it helps us to delineate which treatment options are the best for the patient, as well as when to initiate treatment.” 

 The FibroScan works by sending a vibration through the probe and into the liver. The device then measures how long it takes the vibration to travel through the liver. Vibrations travel through diseased livers faster than through healthy livers. The patient may feel a little tingling, but the procedure is nothing like the traditional method of inserting a 6-inch needle to cut and extract a portion of the patient’s liver. And there simply is no recovery period following the procedure. By correctly identifying a liver’s stiffness, doctors can better determine appropriate treatment and medication. FibroScan procedures given throughout the treatment process can give doctors a quick and pain-free evaluation of how the disease and treatment are progressing.

 FibroScan was first introduced in Europe in 2003 and received clearance by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in April 2013.  FibroScan is exclusively available in the U.S. via Sandhill Scientific, of Highlands Ranch, CO. Sandhill is a leader in GI Diagnostics and may best be known as the pioneer of multichannel intraluminal impedance, which revolutionized testing for Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) and swallowing disorders.   

 About Altru Health System

Altru Health System is a community-owned, integrated system with an acute care hospital, a specialty hospital, more than a dozen clinics in Grand Forks and the region, a large home care network, and a congregate living facility. It employs more than 200 physicians and 4,000 staff and has an annual net operating revenue of more than $475 million.  As the first member of the Mayo Clinic Care Network, Altru’s providers have access to clinically integrated tools extending Mayo Clinic’s knowledge and expertise to patients. 

About Sandhill Scientific – Sandhill Scientific, Inc., was founded in 1982, and is headquartered in Highlands Ranch, CO, with manufacturing operations in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Sandhill is renowned for the manufacture and distribution of state-of-the-art high-resolution impedance manometry systems for both esophageal and anorectal applications, as well as market-leading product for impedance/PH total reflux monitoring. Sandhill is also your exclusive source in the United States for the FibroScan®502 Touch – the first noninvasive device indicated for use in the clinical management of patients with liver disease. For further information, visit Sandhill’s website at