Comparison of anthropometric, area- and volume-based assessment of abdominal subcutaneous and visceral adipose tissue volumes using multi-detector computed tomography

Int J Obes (Lond). 2007 Mar;31(3):500-6. doi: 10.1038/sj.ijo.0803454. Epub 2006 Sep 5.


Purpose: Cross-sectional imaging may enable accurate localization and quantification of subcutaneous and visceral adipose tissue. The reproducibility of multi-detector computed tomography (MDCT)-based volumetric quantification of abdominal adipose tissue and the ability to depict age- and gender-related characteristics of adipose tissue deposition have not been reported.

Methods: We evaluated a random subset of 100 Caucasian subjects (age range: 37-83 years; 49% women) of the Framingham Heart Study offspring cohort who underwent MDCT scanning. Two readers measured subcutaneous and visceral adipose tissue volumes (SAV and VAV; cm(3)) and areas (SAA and VAA; cm(2)) as well as abdominal sagital diameter (SD) and waist circumference (WC).

Results: Inter-reader reproducibility was excellent (relative difference: -0.34+/-0.52% for SAV and 0.59+/-0.93% for VAV, intra-class correlation (ICC)=0.99 each). The mean SAA/VAA ratio was significantly different from the mean SAV/VAV ratio (2.0+/-1.2 vs 1.7+/-0.9; P<0.001). The ratio of SAV/VAV was only weakly inversely associated with SD (ICC=-0.32, P=0.01) and not significantly associated with WC (ICC=-0.14, P=0.14) or body mass index (ICC=-0.17, P=0.09). The mean SAV/VAV ratio was significantly different between participants <60 vs >60 years (1.9+/-1.0 vs 1.5+/-0.7; P<0.001) and between men and women (1.2+/-0.5 vs 2.2+/-0.9; P<0.001).

Conclusion: This study demonstrates that MDCT-based volumetric quantification of abdominal adipose tissue is highly reproducible. In addition, our results suggest that volumetric measurements can depict age- and gender-related differences of visceral and subcutaneous abdominal adipose tissue deposition. Further research is warranted to assess whether volumetric measurements may substantially improve the predictive value of obesity measures for insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes mellitus and other diseases.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intra-Abdominal Fat / anatomy & histology*
  • Intra-Abdominal Fat / ultrastructure
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Observer Variation
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sex Factors
  • Subcutaneous Fat, Abdominal / anatomy & histology*
  • Subcutaneous Fat, Abdominal / ultrastructure
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / methods*
  • Waist-Hip Ratio