Ultrasound measurement of visceral and subcutaneous fat in morbidly obese patients before and after laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding: comparison with computerized tomography and with anthropometric measurements

Obes Surg. 2002 Oct;12(5):648-51. doi: 10.1381/096089202321019620.


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.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / diagnostic imaging*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anthropometry / methods*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Gastroplasty / methods*
  • Humans
  • Laparoscopy / methods*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity, Morbid / diagnostic imaging*
  • Obesity, Morbid / surgery*
  • Postoperative Period
  • Preoperative Care
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / methods*
  • Ultrasonography
  • Viscera / diagnostic imaging*