Barcelona hospital heads European project for early detection of liver disease

Clínic hospital coordinating trial of simple test in primary care centers to help early diagnosis of complaints like cirrhosis

A doctor performes a liver screen on a patient in Hospital Clinic (by Blanca Blay)
A doctor performes a liver screen on a patient in Hospital Clinic (by Blanca Blay) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

February 19, 2020 05:23 PM

A European project under the coordination of Barcelona's Clínic hospital will evaluate the potential for implementing a new strategy in Catalonia's primary care centers for the early detection of liver diseases.

The process involves a non-invasive test of only a few minutes that causes the patient no discomfort, but that emits vibrations that test the rigidity of the organ, which is an indicator for detecting diseases without symptoms, such as cirrhosis.

"If we don't go looking for the patient, the patient will come to us when it is already late, so what we want to do is to change this paradigm," said Pere Ginés, head of the Clínic hospital's Hepatology Service.

The simple test, which can also detect nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, which is associated with obesity, can be administered by a nurse or a primary care doctor, without the need for the patient to go to a hospital to be seen by a specialist.

Called Liverscreen, the project has already been up and running in Catalonia, as well as a few other regions in Europe, for a year and a half, but until now it has not been put into practice due to a lack of funding.

Yet, it has now received a boost of six million euros from the EU's Horizon 2020 program, which will allow the initial results to be confirmed on a larger scale, with the aim of including up to 30,000 participants from different European countries.