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The Times

New ultrasound technology transforming liver disease outcomes for Australians


Over the past decade, instances of liver disease have increased dramatically. Premature deaths caused by liver-related cancers have risen by 107% since 2012 and almost a third of Australians are affected by fatty liver disease. In the past, liver disease was largely linked to alcohol and other drug misuse, but more recently metabolic factors such as weight gain and obesity have come into play. 

Early detection of fatty liver disease and a subsequent change in lifestyle can improve the long-term outcomes of the disease. However, as the liver is known for having the ability to regenerate, early signs and symptoms of liver disease and cancers are virtually impossible to detect without the aid of medical technology, such as ultrasound. 

Ultrasound technology with real-time shear wave elastography, can provide higher resolution images and ultrasound scanning modes to increase diagnostic confidence. Patients with liver abnormalities that are identified early have a better chance of responding well to treatment and reducing the likelihood of long-term complications 

“The earlier that a patient is accurately diagnosed with liver disease, the more positive the outcome for patients,” said George Boukouvalas, Business Unit Director, Hologic“Advances in ultrasound provide better support of healthcare professionals in reducing the number of late-stage liver disease diagnoses.” 

Jodie Long, CEO of The Australasian Sonographers Association, explains the effect the COVID-19 pandemic had on screening for liver diseases: 

“During 2020, Medicare-funded ultrasounds in Australia dropped considerably. Once the country began to come out of lockdowns we expected that number to rise but it hasn’t gone above that level yet, which would indicate that there is a number of people who will likely be presenting with later-stage liver diseases.” 

Some liver diseases, including fatty liver disease, can lead to liver cancer. Tragically, only 19% of people who are diagnosed with liver cancer in Australia are still alive five years later. 

Steps that can be taken to reduce fatty liver disease include increasing your physical activity and resistance exercises to at least five days a week and aiming to eat a balanced, healthy diet that is low in fat and sugar and high in fibre. Talk to your doctor or dietician about getting a tailored healthy eating plan to promote good liver health. 

About Hologic

Hologic, Inc is an innovative medical technology company primarily focused on improving women’s health and well-being through early detection and treatment. For more information on Hologic, visit www.hologic.com 

About the Australasian Sonographer Association (ASA)

The ASA is the professional organisation for Australasian sonographers who are the experts in ultrasound. With over 7,000 members and a membership of more than 75% of Australasia’s sonographers, the ASA has a significant role in supporting and advising the profession on the highest standards to provide the best possible outcomes in ultrasound for patients. www.sonographers.org

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