Ultrasound is a non-invasive solution to examining tissues in real-time. We were recently mentioned in a press release regarding musculoskeletal ultrasonography, which happens to be one of our specialities. View the press release here https://www.infonews.co.nz/news.cfm?id=115381 or read it below.
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is one of the most common causes of chronic liver disease and is found in approximately 15% of the world population. It includes a spectrum of conditions associated with lipid deposition in hepatocytes and ranges from hepatosteatosis (simple fatty liver), to non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH – fatty changes with inflammation and hepatocellular injury or fibrosis) that may lead to advanced fibrosis and cirrhosis. Although normally benign and reversible if detected at an early stage, NAFLD, if left undetected and untreated, can progress to an irreversible advanced liver disease such as fibrosis, cirrhosis, liver cancer and liver failure.
The liver is located in the upper right part of the abdomen and plays a central role in all metabolic processes in the body. It helps to maintain a normal glucose level in the blood. When the blood sugar is low the liver breaks stored glycogen and triglycerides down to glucose to release into the blood stream. The liver also helps to utilise protein, fat and carbohydrates that comes with food. It produces the bile that breaks down fats and converts it to ATP (energy source) and stores substances such as glycogen, iron and vitamins which are essential for metabolism. The liver makes almost all plasma proteins used in immune and coagulation systems, and one of its main roles is detoxification. The liver processes almost all substances that enter the body by breaking it down and excreting toxins.
As the second largest organ in the body, the liver plays a vital role in maintaining a person’s health, so when it becomes fatty it can cause major issues. A liver is deemed fatty when the fat accounts for more than 5-10% of the liver’s body weight. Fatty droplets accumulated in the hepatocytes compress internal cells’ structures and makes it hard for them to perform their functions. Symptoms of a fatty liver may include a constant dull pain in the right upper quadrant or diffuse abdominal discomfort, dyspepsia, problems with digestion, lack of energy and chronic fatigue.
Common causes of a non-alcoholic fatty liver include obesity, hyperlipidemia, or high levels of fats in the blood, diabetes and use of certain medications for a long time. Medical practitioners routinely use a blood test for liver function (LFTs), which measures the blood levels of enzymes made by the liver cells, and a liver ultrasound scan as the first line of liver assessment. A liver ultrasound examination is a reliable test for confirming steatosis. Fatty infiltration of the liver produces a diffuse increase in echogenicity (a bright liver) and vascular blurring due to ultrasound beam attenuation.
On an ultrasound image this can result in:
The grading of diffuse hepatic steatosis on ultrasound has been used to describe the extent of fatty changes in the liver.
Elastography is a newer technique that exploits the fact that a pathological process alters the elastic properties of the involved tissue. This change in elasticity and degree of accompanying fibrosis is detected by measuring tissue stiffness. The main idea is that whether the tissue is hard or soft will give diagnostic information about the presence or status of disease. For example, malignant tumours will often be harder than the surrounding tissue, and livers with fibrotic changes are stiffer than healthy ones.
There are several types of sono-elastography:
Eastmed Radiology offers a comprehensive range of ultrasound and X-ray examinations, including abdominal ultrasound to check the liver condition, using state-of-the-art equipment. To book an ultrasound in Auckland or X-ray in Auckland contact EastMed Radiology.