Liver disease 'time bomb' warning

 

A national screening programme is needed to tackle the "ticking time
bomb" of liver disease caused by alcohol, obesity and hepatitis,
according to a top doctor.

Dr Mark Wright, a consultant hepatologist at Southampton General Hospital, has called for action after the number of deaths rose by a quarter in less than a decade.

He made his comments after the Hampshire hospital unveiled its new high-tech ultrasound probe to diagnose liver damage without the need for invasive biopsies and overnight hospital stays.

The FibroScan, which uses sound waves to assess the degree of tissue damage, takes around 10 minutes to complete and gives specialists an immediate overview of a patient's liver health through computerised images.

Dr Wright, who is a spokesman for the British Liver Trust, said: "The need for liver disease to be treated as a priority has never been more evident.

"Deaths have increased by a quarter in less than a decade and we are sat on a triple ticking timebomb of the consequences of alcohol, obesity and hepatitis which, if we don't intervene, will send things spiralling completely out of control.

"With advances in technology, such as the FibroScan, we are in a better position than ever to tackle this crisis head-on as we can quickly and accurately assess people early on, without posing any risks to their health or requiring them to stay in hospital, then give them the support they need to fend off potential devastating threats to their health."

Liver disease, the fifth biggest cause of death in England and Wales behind heart disease, cancer, stroke and respiratory disease, comes in more than 100 forms but is most commonly associated with alcohol abuse, obesity and viral hepatitis.

Inflammation and fibrosis - scarring - of the liver tissue, which affects around 10 per cent of the UK population, can cause cirrhosis or liver failure and lead to cancer if diagnosis is delayed or if left untreated.

Previously, patients were assessed and diagnosed by biopsy using a large needle pushed through the ribs as either a day case procedure or overnight stay, which often needed to be repeated for accuracy.

Dr Wright said: "The main advantage we have now is that we can avoid painful, unpleasant liver biopsies in a large number of patients and, with it, take away the risks associated with an invasive procedure and the lack of clarity sometimes found when testing a sample.

"Because it is easier, comfortable, quick and risk-free, more patients are benefiting from a thorough, targeted assessment of their liver and more could do in the future as this technology becomes more widely available."

He added: "Now is the time for serious consideration of the introduction of a national screening programme to allow us to step in early where we can and make a dent in the rising death rate before we reach a point over the next 20 years where we have lost all grip on control of the disease."

PA

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Arts and Entertainment
From Mean Girls to Mamet: Lindsay Lohan
theatre
Sport
Nathaniel Clyne (No 2) drives home his side's second goal past Arsenal’s David Ospina at the Emirates
footballArsenal 1 Southampton 2: Arsène Wenger pays the price for picking reserve side in Capital One Cup
News
Mike Tyson has led an appalling and sad life, but are we not a country that gives second chances?
peopleFormer boxer 'watched over' crash victim until ambulance arrived
Arts and Entertainment
Geena Davis, founder and chair of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media
tv
News
i100
Travel
travelGallery And yes, it is indoors
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
The Tiger Who Came To Tea
booksJudith Kerr on what inspired her latest animal intruder - 'The Crocodile Under the Bed'
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
News
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Account Executive/Sales Consultant – Permanent – Hertfordshire - £16-£20k

    £16500 - £20000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently r...

    KS2 PPA Teacher needed (Mat Cover)- Worthing!

    £100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Crawley: KS2 PPA Teacher currently nee...

    IT Systems Manager

    £40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

    IT Application Support Engineer - Immediate Start

    £28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Software Application Support Analyst - Imm...

    Day In a Page

    Syria air strikes: ‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings

    Robert Fisk on Syria air strikes

    ‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings
    Will Lindsay Lohan's West End debut be a turnaround moment for her career?

    Lindsay Lohan's West End debut

    Will this be a turnaround moment for her career?
    'The Crocodile Under the Bed': Judith Kerr's follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

    The follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

    Judith Kerr on what inspired her latest animal intruder - 'The Crocodile Under the Bed' - which has taken 46 years to get into print
    BBC Television Centre: A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past

    BBC Television Centre

    A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past
    Lonesome George: Custody battle in Galapagos over tortoise remains

    My George!

    Custody battle in Galapagos over tortoise remains
    10 best rucksacks for backpackers

    Pack up your troubles: 10 best rucksacks for backpackers

    Off on an intrepid trip? Experts from student trip specialists Real Gap and Quest Overseas recommend luggage for travellers on the move
    Secret politics of the weekly shop

    The politics of the weekly shop

    New app reveals political leanings of food companies
    Beam me up, Scottie!

    Beam me up, Scottie!

    Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
    Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

    Beware Wet Paint

    The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
    Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

    Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

    Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
    Sanctuary for the suicidal

    Sanctuary for the suicidal

    One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
    A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

    Not That Kind of Girl:

    A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

    In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

    Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
    Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

    Model mother

    Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world