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VA Tackles Liver Disease

 Broadens Contract with Echosens to Expand Access to Screening and Early Detection

September 6, 2019

After reaching the goal of 100,000 veterans cured of hepatitis C virus (HCV) in as few as two months, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) now includes in its contract with Echosens the FibroScan® 430 mini+ portable technology.

This addition is part of its strategy to improve access to non-invasive liver assessment and early detection of asymptomatic non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and its subtype non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH).

A potentially progressive liver disease that occurs in people with high blood sugar, obesity or high cholesterol, NAFLD is recognized as the most common chronic liver disease in the United States that can lead to cirrhosis, hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), liver cancer, liver transplantation and death.

Victory Over Hepatitis C

With a goal of targeting some of the major issues that negatively affect veterans today, the VA aggressively made available a drug that helps cure hepatitis C and adopted the FibroScan® noninvasive liver diagnostic devices nationally to help assess the patients’ liver conditions — without painful and time-consuming liver biopsies.

This led to the nearly 100 percent hepatitis C eradication within the VA. The FibroScan® technology served as a valuable tool in this fight, and has helped many of veterans at the VA. As part of an overall assessment, FibroScan® can help detect liver disease before it progresses and becomes symptomatic, reducing costs and improving outcomes.

Studies Reinforce Adoption of FibroScan® Technology

A recent study suggests that fatty liver is present in 47.5 percent of patients who have cured their HCV infection, with some experiencing ongoing clinically significant fibrosis, despite normalizing liver enzymes. This reinforces the need to monitor liver health in patients with metabolic syndrome who are cured of HCV infection.

Another study found that the military experienced a 12-fold increase in the number of active military diagnosed with NAFLD and is recognized by the VA as a growing disease that requires immediate action.

Simple, Non-Invasive Test Where and When It’s Needed

The portable FibroScan® units will bring greater access to screening and earlier detection for many veterans who may be living with liver disease but are completely unaware of it. With one-third of veterans receiving their healthcare in community clinics and not the VA Medical Centers, the addition of the FibroScan® 430 mini+ provides greater access to care for these patients. 

The FibroScan® assessment is a simple, non-invasive test that provides scores that can be used to diagnose and monitor liver health. The addition of portable FibroScan® systems will enable the VA to save time, money and, most importantly, help the veterans with hepatitis C get follow-up assessments and halt the progression of NAFLD.