Presented by NIHR Nottingham Digestive Diseases Biomedical Research Unit and University of Nottingham

Dr Neil Guha
Nottingham Digestive Diseases Biomedical Research Unit

Dr Susan Francis
Nottingham Digestive Diseases Biomedical Research Unit

Dr Grace Dolman
Nottingham Digestive Diseases Biomedical Research Unit

Dr David Harman
Nottingham Digestive Diseases Biomedical Research Unit

Dr Naaventhan Palaniyappan
Nottingham Digestive Diseases Biomedical Research Unit

Dr Eleanor Cox
Nottingham Digestive Diseases Biomedical Research Unit

Charlotte Buchanan
Nottingham Digestive Diseases Biomedical Research Unit

Dr Caroline Hoad
Nottingham Digestive Diseases Biomedical Research Unit

Exhibit blog

A few sobering thoughts?

On Saturday night, police forces from across the country posted a series of tweets on #alcoholharm. These tweets clearly identified the burden of alcohol misuse on our law enforcement services and sad....

The number of deaths from liver disease increased by 25% between 2001 and 2009, with the majority of deaths in patients under the age of 70. In contrast, the number of deaths from heart disease, cancer and stroke is declining. The common causes of liver disease are alcohol, obesity, diabetes and viruses. Often there are no symptoms until there is irreversible scarring (fibrosis) to the liver.

See the scientists explain the science behind their exhibit in the video above. See the Patient Experience video to see people with liver disease talk about their experiences.

How it works

This exhibit will show how new tests can detect liver disease at an earlier stage. Introducing lifestyle changes and treatments earlier would improve the outlook for many patients. Fibrosis is traditionally diagnosed by looking at a small piece of liver (biopsy) under the microscope. This can be painful and may give misleading results as it only assesses 1/50,000th of the liver.

Fibrosis alters the physical properties of the liver. For example, the liver becomes stiffer with scarring. Transient elastography (Fibroscan) measures liver stiffness, by sending a mechanical wave through the liver and recording how quickly it travels. It travels more quickly in scarred liver. We will show how Fibroscan can be used in GP practices to improve early detection.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) uses powerful magnets and radio waves to measure the magnetic properties of organs of the body, in relation to their water content. Scarring changes the magnetic properties of the liver. MRI examines the whole liver to detect these changes. 

Using physics to improve tests for liver disease will hopefully help us treat patients more effectively and reduce deaths.

Lead Image: Cirrhosis under the microscope