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Fibro Scan advancement at FMC

by Danella Smith

Nurse, Rachel Wundke performing a Fibro Scan on patient, Michael Brownbill.

Flinders Medical Centre (FMC) recently welcomed a clinical Fibro Scan machine which can determine the extent of liver damage, and many are thrilled.

The $100,000 second-hand machine was fully funded by FMC volunteers and first began practice on the 9th of May. A group of eight liver nurses completed one full day of training to establish an understanding of how the machine functions.

Chronic liver disease nurse, Rachel Wundke, explains the Fibro Scan machine is "perfect to help determine Hepatitis C", and has been an exciting time for FMC.

The Fibro Scan process resembles an ultrasound and determines the extent of fibrosis through a measure of liver stiffness.

FMC currently run Thursday afternoon clinics where patients attend a 10 minute Fibro Scan appointment and determine the overall health of their liver. For some patients, the Fibro Scan may be able to out rule biopsies. In comparison, the Fibro Scan is less intrusive, quicker and fewer risks are involved.

However, as Ms Wundke explains, biopsies will still have their place in the process, particularly for alcohol- related liver damage or results which are unclear on the Fibro Scan. "One of the men I fibro scanned yesterday, the result wasn't clear so he will still need a biopsy," Ms Wundke says.

"[The fibroscanner] will detect fibrosis and cirrhosis and can test if we need to act urgently or not."

In SA, FMC and The Royal Adelaide are the only hospitals with a Fibro Scanner. FMC's is a more advanced version as it has an additional XL probe.

An XL probe is necessary for obese patients as it recognises body fat around a patient's stomach, yet still allows for an accurate reading. For a patient with excess body fat, particularly around the stomach, the XL probe ensures body fat is not confused in the reading.

Ms Wundke hopes the Fibro Scanner will fasten up the whole process of determining a patient's liver damage and ultimately put an end to patient waiting lists. "Our patients don't have to wait anymore," she says. "Some patients were waiting months to have a scan at The Royal Adelaide."

Michael Brownbill, 63, has lived with Hepatitis C for most of his adult years and was Ms Wundke's fifth Fibro Scanning patient. Mr Brownbill was thrilled by the new machine and his very quick 10 minute appointment.

"This is a massive breakthrough for people like me who are living with it [Hepatitis C]," he says. "I think it is great to see advancements like this, it makes it a lot easier for us."

Ms Wundke says she believes all big hospitals in SA will jump on the trend and gain access to a Fibro Scanner in the near future.

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