BOSTON (WHDH) -- The liver has the important function of clearing the body of toxins, and when it doesn't work correctly it can be deadly.
Testing for liver disease used to entail a painful needle biopsy. But now, new technology can make evaluating liver health faster, easier, and pain-free.
Fifty-five-year-old Karl Dennis has liver concerns that have required a painful needle biopsy.
"It feels like the air is being knocked out of you when that procedure is done," said Karl Dennis, needs liver tested.
But now there is a new painless device, called a fibroscan. It's a welcome alternative to a needle biopsy, especially since diseases of the liver are on the rise.
"Obesity and fatty liver is becoming one of the most common causes of liver disease in the United States and probably one of the most underappreciated complications of obesity and diabetes," said Dr. Stuart Gordon, liver specialist.
The fibroscan only takes 15 minutes. It works by sending sound into the liver, causing it to vibrate.
A healthy liver vibrates differently than a diseased one.
Dr. Gordon predicts the new tool will become the standard, replacing the needles.
"I would definitely choose over and over again this new ultrasound procedure," said Karl.
This new technology eliminates the need for needles, and that eliminates the potential for excessive bleeding. Because it's so quick and painless, it's easy to repeat.