Liver disease detected in minutes thanks to generous Friends

(L to R) Dr Simon Whalley and Dr Abdullah Mawas (both consultant gastroenterologists), service manager Gary Ingalla, Lou Mascall, senior clinical nurse specialist in liver disease, and Dr Nadim Sheikh (consultant gastroenterologist) with the Fibroscan. ANL-160525-110521001
(L to R) Dr Simon Whalley and Dr Abdullah Mawas (both consultant gastroenterologists), service manager Gary Ingalla, Lou Mascall, senior clinical nurse specialist in liver disease, and Dr Nadim Sheikh (consultant gastroenterologist) with the Fibroscan. ANL-160525-110521001

New technology that can check the condition of the liver in minutes is now available for patients from across West Suffolk thanks to a generous donation from the hospital’s friends group.

The £70,000 Fibroscan machine helps doctors and nurses at West Suffolk Hospital to diagnose cirrhosis of the liver, which has a variety of causes including hepatitis B and C, obesity and alcohol.

Non-invasive and quick, it scans from outside the body and quickly gives clear, accurate results.

Before the equipment was introduced, patients needed to have a biopsy to monitor the severity of their liver disease, which meant they would have to be admitted as a day case.

Gary Ingalla, service manager at the hospital, said: “We are incredibly grateful to the Friends for their generosity in funding this fantastic piece of equipment, which will help us to carefully monitor the growing number of patients with liver problems.”

The new machine is portable, which means it can be used during outpatient appointments. In time, the hospital also hopes to start an outreach clinic, taking the Fibroscan into the community so that patients can access care closer to home, without the need to travel to Bury St Edmunds.

Lou Mascall, senior clinical nurse specialist in liver disease, added: “The procedure is totally non-invasive, and allows us to scan the liver quickly so that we can diagnose damage at an early stage, start treatment promptly and give the patient a better prognosis.

“As well as being quicker and safer for patients, the whole process is much more pleasant as it means they no longer have to have a painful liver biopsy, which also carries other risks.”