Background: There are now a variety of methods to assess body fat distribution, anthropometric (waist circumference and waist/hip W/H ratio), computed tomography (CT), and ultrasound (US) measurements, with CT considered as the reference method. Bariatric surgery leads to a significant and usually durable weight loss in morbidly obese patients; when assessing its results, it is of interest to measure changes of total fat tissue and of body fat distribution.
Methods: In this study, we compared anthropometric, US, and CT measurements of body fat distribution under basal conditions and 1 year after laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding (LAGB); 120 morbidly obese patients were considered at baseline, and 40 patients were re-evaluated 1 year after LAGB.
Results: Thickness of visceral and subcutaneous fat measured through CT and US methods was superimposable both under basal conditions and 1 year after LAGB, and the highest correlation was found between CT and US data on visceral fat, followed by CT and US data on subcutaneous fat; a fair correlation was also found between CT and US data on visceral fat and waist circumference.
Conclusion: We suggest that evaluation of body fat distribution is accomplished by US instead of CT measurement, because of its lower cost and low exposure risk. Waist circumference stands as a reasonable surrogate of both methods, while W/H ratio is poorly correlated with other measures of body fat distribution.