Lean tissue imaging: a new era for nutritional assessment and intervention

JPEN J Parenter Enteral Nutr. 2014 Nov;38(8):940-53. doi: 10.1177/0148607114550189. Epub 2014 Sep 19.


Body composition refers to the amount of fat and lean tissues in our body; it is a science that looks beyond a unit of body weight, accounting for the proportion of different tissues and its relationship to health. Although body weight and body mass index are well-known indexes of health status, most researchers agree that they are rather inaccurate measures, especially for elderly individuals and those patients with specific clinical conditions. The emerging use of imaging techniques such as dual energy x-ray absorptiometry, computerized tomography, magnetic resonance imaging, and ultrasound imaging in the clinical setting have highlighted the importance of lean soft tissue (LST) as an independent predictor of morbidity and mortality. It is clear from emerging studies that body composition health will be vital in treatment decisions, prognostic outcomes, and quality of life in several nonclinical and clinical states. This review explores the methodologies and the emerging value of imaging techniques in the assessment of body composition, focusing on the value of LST to predict nutrition status.

Keywords: CT; DXA; MRI; body composition; imaging; lean body mass; lean soft tissue; nutrition status; osteosarcopenic obesity; sarcopenia; sarcopenic obesity; ultrasound.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue
  • Body Composition*
  • Body Fluid Compartments
  • Diagnostic Imaging / methods*
  • Humans
  • Muscle, Skeletal*
  • Nutrition Assessment*
  • Nutritional Status*
  • Obesity / diagnosis*
  • Sarcopenia / diagnosis*