Norfolk liver patients to benefit from new machine

Norfolk patients with liver disease are to benefit from a new machine which can help monitor their liver health thanks to a support group raising almost �80,000.

The Norfolk and Norwich Liver Group, with the help of the friends of the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, has raised �77,500 to buy a FibroScan machine for the hospital.

The news comes as a new national report warns that more people are dying from liver disease than ever before, with a 25pc increase in deaths between 2001 and 2009.

Until now, only a liver biopsy, which is costly, time-consuming and painful, could be carried out on patients at the N&N to assess the amount of damage (fibrosis) caused to their liver.

The FibroScan offers a non-invasive test, which uses ultrasound and takes just minutes, to assess the degree of scarring within a liver. For some patients this may alleviate the need for a liver biopsy.

In addition, it provides a means to follow how diseases that affect the liver evolve over time.

The liver group set up the appeal in April 2011 to raise enough money to buy the machine.

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N&N consultant hepatologist Simon Rushbrook said: 'The FibroScan will allow us to both be able to follow patients more carefully who suffer from chonic liver disease and also to identify patients that are suffering from chronic liver disease that were previoulsy not recognised by simple ultrasound or liver blood tests.'

Norfolk and Norwich Liver Group secretary Marjorie Dingle said: 'Our group has worked ceaselessly to meet the target. People have been so generous. So many contributors have helped that it would be inappropriate to mention individuals, only to say a huge thank you.'

The new report into liver disease deaths found the east of England has the lowest rate of deaths from liver disease and the lowest rate of deaths from alcohol-related liver disease.

From 2001 to 2001, an average of 916 people in the east died each year from liver disease, with 291 of those dying from alcohol-related liver disease.

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