Quantification of absolute fat mass using an adipose tissue reference signal model

J Magn Reson Imaging. 2008 Dec;28(6):1483-91. doi: 10.1002/jmri.21603.


Purpose: To develop a method for quantifying absolute fat mass, and to demonstrate its feasibility in phantoms and in ex vivo swine specimens at 3 Tesla.

Materials and methods: Chemical-shift-based fat-water decomposition was used to first reconstruct fat-only images. Our proposed model used a reference signal from fat in pure adipose tissue to calibrate and normalize the fat signal intensities from the fat-only images. Fat mass was subsequently computed on a voxel-by-voxel basis and summed across each sample. Feasibility of the model was tested in six ex vivo swine samples containing varying mixtures of fat (adipose) and lean tissues. The samples were imaged using 1.5-mm isotropic voxels and a single-channel birdcage head coil at 3 Tesla. Lipid assay was independently performed to determine fat mass, and served as the comparison standard.

Results: Absolute fat mass values (in grams) derived by our proposed model were in excellent agreement with lipid assay results, with a 5% to 7% difference (r > 0.99; P < 0.001).

Conclusion: Preliminary results in ex vivo swine samples demonstrated the feasibility of computing absolute fat mass as a quantitative endpoint using chemical-shift fat-water MRI with a signal model based on reference fat from pure adipose tissue.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / anatomy & histology*
  • Animals
  • Feasibility Studies
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Phantoms, Imaging
  • Swine