Shear Wave Elastography (SWE) is an imaging modality that estimates the elastic properties or stiffness of tissue in the body such as the liver. It’s an imaging technique that uses ultrasound to determine the amount of fibrosis or scar tissue in the liver as a result of chronic liver disease. It can also be used to measure the amount of fat in the liver. Performing elastography has replaced the need for liver biopsy in many patients.
When the liver becomes damaged, a liver biopsy may be needed to determine the cause of the injury, whether it be from toxins such as alcohol, a viral infection such as hepatitis, or hereditary diseases. If an elastography shows that the liver is damaged, a liver biopsy may be next step in management. Fatty liver disease, cirrhosis, and liver tumors may require a liver biopsy as well.
A liver biopsy can provide a significant amount of information. It can show excessive amounts of fat in the liver, suggesting fatty liver disease or steatosis. It can determine the amount of damage and scar tissue if a condition, such as cirrhosis of the liver, is present. If tumors are present in the liver, a liver biopsy can confirm the cancer. A liver biopsy may provide the doctors at Gastro Center of Maryland with valuable information about the condition of the liver to determine the best treatment course.