Using transient elastography to detect chronic liver diseases in a primary care nurse consultancy

2013 Nursing research 62;6 (450-454)

BACKGROUND: Chronic liver diseases (CLDs) are significant causes of death in adults in many countries and are usually diagnosed at late stages. Early detection may allow time for treatment to prevent disease progression. OBJECTIVES: The aim of this study was to assess the feasibility of screening for unrecognized CLDs in a primary care nurse consultancy and report findings from screening. METHODS: Two experienced nurses in a primary care nurse consultancy were trained to perform transient elastography (TE). Subjects aged from 18 to 70 years were identified randomly from the health registry and invited to participate in a feasibility pilot study. Exclusion criteria were past or current history of liver diseases. Nurses collected demographic and clinical data and performed TE tests using Fibroscan to measure liver stiffness; a cutoff score of 6.8 kPa or greater was used as an indicator of the presence of CLD with fibrosis. RESULTS: Accurate measurements were obtained in 495 of 502 participants (98.6%). Prevalence of elevated liver stiffness was observed in 28 of 495 subjects (5.7%). Compared to patients with normal liver stiffness, patients with increased liver stiffness were older, were more frequently male, and had higher frequency of metabolic syndrome. Nonalcoholic fatty liver was the most common cause of CLD. DISCUSSION: Following training in procedures for conducting TE, nurses in a primary care clinic were able to detect unrecognized CLDs in presumably healthy subjects. Early detection of CLDs is feasible in primary care clinics and may facilitate identification of undiagnosed CLD in adults.

Pubmed : 24165222