Technologies for advanced liver disease monitoring allow patients to
stay at home
17 November 2014
The EC-funded D-Liver project has developed a remote
support system for patients with advanced liver disease to monitor
their condition at home and save regular trips to hospital for tests
and appointments with consultants.
One of the aims of D-LIVER is to hand back control to the
patient. By developing a home monitoring and support system,
connected to a central liver patient management system at the
hospital, the project focuses on improving quality of life for
patients at an advanced stage of the disease.
Such patients might be waiting for a transplant; they may have
undergone liver resection, where the remaining organ is undergoing
regeneration; or they may have unstable advanced disease, prone to
episodes of deterioration.
Some 29 million Europeans suffer from chronic liver disease. It
is one of the most common causes of death in the EU and doctors
believe that tens of thousands of early deaths could be avoided with
the right healthcare once the condition is diagnosed.
Using the system developed by d-LIVER, the patient inserts a 3cm
x 3cm plastic chip into a measurement instrument and then simply has
to prick a finger and squeeze a drop of blood which, when presented
to the cartridge opening, will be immediately drawn into the system.
The test results are carried out automatically and the results of
the various parameters (sodium, potassium, creatinine, bilirubin,
albumin and blood clotting time) become available within a few
D-LIVER has also created a wearable device to allow continuous
monitoring of physiological parameters such as heart rate,
temperature, activity, posture and changes in blood pressure. And it
has a cognitive test on a tablet computer to measure concentration
and brain function, since high liver toxicity often leads to a state
of mental confusion (encephalopathy).
These tests can be performed as often as required, daily or
weekly, and the results are available not just to the patient at
home, but also the clinician monitoring the patient from the
Application to other diseases
As D-LIVER coordinator Prof Calum McNeil, of Newcastle
University, explained: "The platform is generic. Once we get over
the technological hurdles, it could be applied to all sorts of other
disease conditions: eg management of cardiovascular, renal,
neurological and inflammatory diseases."
Colleagues of Prof McNeil at Newcastle University, studying the
economics of such a system, estimate it will save thousands of euros
a year in hospital admission costs per patient, particularly those
with hepatic encephalopathy.
Now the technology developed during the first two years of the
project is to be tested on patients. Between now and the end of
D-LIVER in September 2015, participants are preparing for a multi-center
clinical trial of the system they plan to conduct in 2016, involving
up to 150 patients in Newcastle, Berlin and Milan.
D-LIVER, which ends in September 2015, involves 14 partners from
7 countries and is receiving just under 11 million euros in funding
from FP7-ICT for Health.
The project website:
Support for patients in the North of England by the adult liver
patient support group based at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle