NICE Green Lights Device to Detect Liver Damage
The UK’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence has recommended Siemens’ Virtual Touch Quantification device as a cost-effective method of detecting and monitoring liver damage in patients with chronic hepatitis B or C, compared with alternatives.
VTq is a software application that assesses whether the liver is flexible and healthy, or stiff due to fibrous scar tissue. According to NICE, the technique could save about $662 per patient versus biopsy and roughly $80 compared with transient elastography, another noninvasive test used to evaluate the liver.
In its submission to NICE, Siemens touts VTq as a painless, outpatient procedure that can help to eliminate serial biopsies over several years. The technique also allows for a more complete assessment of the liver, including possible cancers, and early identification and treatment of hepatic fibrosis.
Andrew Langford, chief executive of the British Liver Trust, says liver disease is the third leading cause of premature death and the only one that continues to increase. “VTq is an invaluable addition to making diagnosis and ongoing monitoring as easy and patient-centered as possible, so it’s good that the NICE guidance encourages its use,” he says. — Elizabeth Hollis