New liver scanner

11th Feb 2013

A new liver scanner which gives patients instant results and avoids the need for an uncomfortable and potentially harmful biopsy, is now installed and up and running at Sandwell Hospital.

The £70,000 scanner, which measures the elasticity of liver tissue, has been bought for patients at Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust by a combination of donations from Sandwell Primary Care Trust (PCT), the Hospital’s League of Friends and a local charity that supports upper gastrointestinal and liver cancers – Upper GI Blues.

Consultant, Dr Saket Singhal, explained that the new machine, which is used to measure the health of the liver, would be of benefit to patients with many types of liver disease, including those with viral hepatitis, fatty liver disease and liver disease due to alcohol.

He added: “The scanner works by projecting painless waves through the liver tissue which then give us a reading of how elastic the tissue is. A healthy liver should be very soft and elastic and from how stiff the tissue is we can see how damaged the liver may be. Patients get their results straight away and no longer have to endure an uncomfortable biopsy. It is a big benefit to our patients and means essential treatment can be started sooner.”

As well as two consultants, Dr Singhal and Dr Ed Fogden, being trained to use the scanner, Specialist Nurse Clare Smith has also undergone training and uses the machine in clinics with her patients too.

Kim Bailey, Clinical Service Development Project Manager at Sandwell Primary care Trust (PCT) said: ”The PCT contribution towards the purchase the scanner was secured through public health funds, with agreement from the (then) local Sandwell Clinical Commissioning Groups.  PCT staff and local GPs who supported the fibroscanner were thrilled with the successful outcome.  The scanner will be of considerable benefit to patients, clinicians and commissioners across the local health economy.”

A substantial £20,000 chunk of the cost came from Sandwell Hospital’s League of Friends fundraising group. Their Chairperson, Janet Dearn said: “It is in our constitution that every penny we raise is used for the benefit of patients and we are delighted to have been able to make this substantial contribution.”

£5000 was also donated by Upper GI Blues, a local charity that works with and for people who have suffered gastro intestinal and liver disease. Dr Singhal will meet with the group, and the League of Friends, in coming months to talk to them about how their contribution will make a difference to lives of local patients, a task he said he is delighted to be able to do.

Caption: Dr Saket Singhal and Specialist Nurse Clare Smith with the new scanner.

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