Increased depth of subcutaneous fat is protective against abdominal injuries in motor vehicle collisions

Annu Proc Assoc Adv Automot Med. 2003:47:545-59.


The objective of this study was to determine the effect of differences in subcutaneous fat depth on adult injury patterns in motor vehicle collisions. Sixty-seven consecutive adult crash subjects aged 19-65 who received computed tomography of their chest, abdomen and pelvis as part of their medical evaluation and who consented to inclusion in the Crash Injury Research Engineering Network (CIREN) study were included. Subcutaneous fat was measured just lateral to the rectus abdominus muscle in a transverse section taken through the subject at the level of L4. Women had significantly greater subcutaneous fat depth than men. Increased subcutaneous fat depth was associated with significantly decreased injury severity to the abdominal region of females. A similar trend was noted in males although it did not reach statistical significance. Our findings suggest that increased subcutaneous fat may be protective against injuries by cushioning the abdominal region against injurious forces in motor vehicle collisions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Abbreviated Injury Scale
  • Abdominal Injuries / diagnostic imaging*
  • Abdominal Injuries / pathology
  • Abdominal Injuries / prevention & control*
  • Accidents, Traffic*
  • Adipose Tissue / diagnostic imaging*
  • Adipose Tissue / pathology
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Body Mass Index
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Injury Severity Score
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Skinfold Thickness
  • Subcutaneous Tissue / diagnostic imaging*
  • Subcutaneous Tissue / pathology
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed