Search Virginia Mason News

SEATTLE – (Dec. 2, 2013) — Virginia Mason today becomes the first in the Pacific Northwest to use non-invasive FibroScan technology to evaluate disease stage in patients diagnosed with liver ailments.

Approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration earlier this year, the technology transforms how liver disease is diagnosed. It is highly effective in determining the presence or absence of cirrhosis without a liver biopsy. The patient is spared the discomfort and risk of the invasive biopsy procedure. FibroScan also allows a larger volume of the liver to be evaluated compared to small samples that can be obtained during a typical biopsy.

“This truly changes how we manage patients with liver disease and will replace the need for liver biopsies in many patients,” said Kris Kowdley, MD, hepatologist and director of the Liver Center of Excellence at Virginia Mason.

Based on a technology called vibration-controlled transient elastography, the FibroScan device assesses liver shear wave speed (expressed in meters per second) and equivalent stiffness (expressed in kilopascal units) in a rapid and totally painless way. The physician simply places a hand-held scanner on the skin in the area over the liver. Scans can be conducted quickly and multiple times. Also, scan results are immediately available for evaluation by the physician.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently recommended “baby boomers” (individuals born from 1945 through 1965) be tested for Hepatitis C, an infectious disease that primarily affects the liver. “Our use of FibroScan is particularly timely as we’re on the brink of an enormous increase in the number of patients diagnosed with Hepatitis C,” Dr. Kowdley said.

Initially introduced in Europe in 2003 by the French company, Echosens, FibroScan is used in Japan, China, Canada and approximately 70 other countries. In April 2013, the Food and Drug Administration approved its use in the U.S.

“We are proud to lead the way by introducing this technology to Seattle and the Pacific Northwest,” Dr. Kowdley said. “We look forward to offering this innovative option to our patients and to supporting their improved health.”

About Virginia Mason Medical Center
Virginia Mason Medical Center, founded in 1920, is a nonprofit regional health care system in Seattle that serves the Pacific Northwest. Virginia Mason employs more than 5,600 people and includes a 336-bed acute-care hospital; a primary and specialty care group practice of more than 460 physicians; satellite locations throughout the Puget Sound area; and Bailey-Boushay House, the first skilled-nursing and outpatient chronic care management program in the U.S. designed and built specifically to meet the needs of people with HIV/AIDS. Benaroya Research Institute at Virginia Mason is internationally recognized for its breakthrough autoimmune disease research. Virginia Mason was the first health system to apply lean manufacturing principles to health care delivery to eliminate waste and improve quality and patient safety.

To learn more about Virginia Mason Medical Center, please visit or follow @VirginiaMasonon Twitter. To learn how Virginia Mason is transforming health care and to join the conversation, visit our blog at

Media Contact:
Gale Robinette
Virginia Mason Media Relations
(206) 341-1509

Back to Search