Evolution of bioimpedance: a circuitous journey from estimation of physiological function to assessment of body composition and a return to clinical research

Eur J Clin Nutr. 2013 Jan:67 Suppl 1:S2-9. doi: 10.1038/ejcn.2012.149.


Background/objectives: Bioimpedance is the collective term that describes safe, non-invasive methods to measure the electrical responses to the introduction of a low-level, alternating current into a living organism, and the biophysical models to estimate body composition from bioelectrical measurements. Although bioimpedance techniques have been used for more than 100 years to monitor assorted biological components, the desire to translate bioelectrical measurements into physiological variables advanced the creation of empirical prediction models that produced inconsistent results.

Subjects/methods: This paper succinctly reviews the origin, and critically evaluates the conceptual models and the implementation of bioimpedance in clinical research, including indirect assessment of assorted physiological functions and body composition (fluid volumes and fat-free mass), classification of hydration, regional fluid accumulation, prognosis in disease and wound healing.

Results: Despite widespread and mounting interest in the use of bioimpedance to characterise body structure and function, most experimental findings reveal the limitations of existing physical models and reliance on multiple regression models for use in assessments of an individual.

Conclusions: Contemporary applications of bioimpedance emphasise the value of bioimpedance variables per se in some novel biomedical applications with the objective of identifying opportunities for future outcome-based research.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anthropometry / methods*
  • Biomedical Research*
  • Body Composition*
  • Electric Impedance*
  • Humans