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New 'traffic light' test could save lives with earlier diagnosis of liver disease
Date:8/29/2012

A new 'traffic light' test devised by Dr Nick Sheron and colleagues at University of Southampton and Southampton General Hospital could be used in primary care to diagnose liver fibrosis and cirrhosis in high risk populations more easily than at present.

Liver disease develops silently without symptoms, and many people have no idea they have liver failure until it is too late one-third of people admitted to hospital with end-stage liver disease die within the first few months. A simple test available in primary care could diagnose disease much earlier, enabling those at risk to change their behaviour and save lives.

The Southampton Traffic Light (STL) test, details of which are published in the September 2012 issue of the British Journal of General Practice (BJGP), combines several different tests and clinical markers which are given a score that indicates the patient's likelihood of developing liver fibrosis and liver cirrhosis.*

The result comes in three colours: red means that the patient has liver scarring (fibrosis) and may even have cirrhosis, green means that there is no cirrhosis and the patient is highly unlikely to die from liver disease over the next five years. Amber means there is at least a 50:50 chance of scarring with a significant possibility of death within five years, and patients are advised to stop drinking to avoid further disease and death.

The test was given to over 1,000 patients, and their progress was carefully followed and monitored afterwards, in some cases over several years, to assess the accuracy of the test in predicting whether they developed liver fibrosis or cirrhosis.

The test proved to be accurate in severe liver disease, and while not a substitute for clinical judgement or other liver function tests, can provide GPs with an objective means to accurately assess the potential severity of liver fibrosis in high-risk patients for example, heavy drinkers, those wit
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Contact: Becky Attwood
r.attwood@soton.ac.uk
44-023-805-95457
University of Southampton
Source:Eurekalert

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