(Excerpts taken from FOX17 WXMI)
Dr. Elaine Leigh, a nurse practitioner at Mercy Health Muskegon’s Hep C Clinic, recently participated in an interview with FOX17’s Erica Francis to talk about the new diagnostic tool, FibroScan — an ultrasound technology to determine if a patient has liver scarring or fibrosis. The test takes only a few minutes, is non-invasive and often replaces the need for a liver biopsy.
Mercy Health’s Hepatitis C Clinic in Muskegon is fortunate to offer FibroScan in West Michigan. There are only six FibroScans in the entire state of Michigan. Wait times for FibroScan appointments in other parts of the country (mainly rural) average eight to 10 months. The Mercy Health Hep C Clinic can offer appointments to patients within weeks of a referral.
Tammy Rogers of Ludington was diagnosed with Hepatitis C in 2005 and has never been treated. She describes the Fibroscan as ‘a godsend’ and something that could very well save her life. Rogers underwent a liver biopsy in 2009 and says it was completely different than what she experienced with Fibroscan.
“This was a piece of cake, a walk in the park,” Rogers said.
“I had to have somebody with me (during the biopsy), because I couldn’t drive afterward, and it is a fairly long needle.”
“We have not had good options for how to determine fibrosis up until the time we got our Fibroscan,” said Dr.Leigh. “Liver biopsy has always been known as the gold standard for determining how much fibrosis someone has. The problem is you can even have error with a liver biopsy.”
Although a liver biopsy is still an option, experts say it’s risky, somewhat painful and pricey.
Once FibroScan identifies how much liver scarring a patient has, the patient will be notified about eligibility for the direct-acting, anti-viral drugs through Medicaid.
Speaking of direct-acting, anti-viral drugs, Rogers said, “These drugs are opening the door for so many people like me; never had any symptoms, never gone through any treatment.” The drugs she is referring to came out in fall of 2014 and have been used to treat 200 people with Hepatitis C. “Of course, my hope is that this drug is a fit for me, and when it’s all over and done with, I won’t have that weighing on my mind because it’s going to be gone,” said Rogers.
To receive the FibroScan procedure, patients must be referred by their primary doctor.
To see the full story from FOX17 WXMI: http://fox17online.com/2016/06/14/fibroscan-non-invasive-liver-test-paves-way-for-those-with-liver-scarring/