Scientists have developed a scan that could spot the early effect of liquor on liver and signs of liver-related illness.
The new machine, which uses technology similar to ultrasound, can assess the degree of liver damage drinkers may be doing themselves, reported the online edition of Daily Mail.
Until now damage could be accurately tested only by sticking a biopsy needle into the liver through the stomach wall. However, this could damage the liver, occasionally resulting in death, and therefore is not used for routine health screening.
"But the new scan, which takes five minutes, is painless, non-invasive and risk-free to the patients," said Rajiv Jalan, a doctor at the London Clinic.
The device called Fibroscan uses sound waves to look for changes in the liver. It works on the principle that sound waves travel slower through a soft, healthy liver than a hardened, damaged liver, researchers said.
It can spot the changes in the liver in a few minutes by the placing of a paddle on the body.
An image of the liver can be seen on a screen and a computer connected to the sensor works out the degree of any liver damage by assessing how quickly the sound waves travel through the liver.
"This is an important addition to finding out what is happening with the liver and can be used to look at a number of diseases, including hepatitis and fatty liver disease," Jalan said.
Fibroscan is not yet in use in National Health Service hospitals in Britain.