VISALIA – Patients with symptoms of liver damage can now receive a more detailed diagnostic imaging evaluation that decreases the need for liver biopsies, thanks to new technology at Visalia Medical Clinic.
Elastography uses ultrasound to identify and determine the extent of fibrosis in the liver, which can be caused by hepatitis C, obesity, diabetes and alcohol abuse, explained Darrin Smith, MD, a radiologist with VMC.
Previously, in order to track the disease progression patients with significant liver disease had to undergo an annual biopsy, which can result in internal bleeding or infections and is much more costly due to the required hospital setting, Dr. Smith explained. A biopsy can also miss sampling the correct tissue, resulting in a misdiagnosis or requiring a repeat biopsy.
Liver disease is becoming increasingly common, and is often found incidentally when evaluating patients for other medical problems. Early liver disease may also be detected on screening blood tests or annual check-ups.
“We are the only medical facility in the area offering this technology and we are seeing quite a few patients, unfortunately largely because of the rate of diabetes and obesity in our area,” Dr. Smith said.
Visalia Medical Clinic, an affiliate of the Kaweah Delta Medical Foundation, offers the expertise of more than 50 providers. VMC also offers a lab, imaging including CT and MRI, extended hours through the QuickCare walk-in clinic, a Sleep Disorders Center, as well as a Physical Therapy Department all in one location at 5400 W. Hillsdale, Visalia.
The clinic is open Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; with extended and weekend hours at QuickCare. For information, call 739-2000 or visit www.vmchealth.com.