Rationale and objectives: Pericardial and visceral adipose tissue volumes can provide new insight into the complex relation between obesity, adult-onset diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. We describe a new method for quantifying pericardial adipose tissue volumes with computed tomography (CT), and present its precision and relation to established measures of adiposity.
Methods: Eighty subjects randomly selected from a family study of sibling pairs concordant for type 2 diabetes and unaffected siblings, 69 with diabetes, had 2 cardiac CT scans with electrocardiographic gating and 1 abdominal scan as part of an examination designed to measure calcified atherosclerotic plaque. Pericardial adipose tissue and visceral adipose tissue were measured using a 3-dimensional analysis technique. Body mass index, waist circumference, waist-to-hip ratio, and percent fat by dual x-ray absorptiometry were measured during the same visit.
Results: Pericardial adipose tissue volumes measured independently and in a random order from the 2 sequential cardiac CT scans obtained during the same examination were highly correlated (Spearman R = 0.99; P < 0.0001). The mean +/- standard deviation (median) pericardial adipose tissue volume was 320.5 +/- 147.3 (281.7) mL. Pericardial adipose tissue was highly correlated with total abdominal visceral adipose tissue (R = 0.81; P < 0.0001).
Conclusion: The significant association between pericardial and visceral adipose tissue volumes in this preliminary study suggests that pericardial, like visceral adipose tissue, may be an important predictor or risk factor for cardiovascular disease and other related illnesses and warrants further evaluation.