Automatic segmentation of abdominal organs and adipose tissue compartments in water-fat MRI: Application to weight-loss in obesity

Eur J Radiol. 2016 Sep;85(9):1613-21. doi: 10.1016/j.ejrad.2016.06.006. Epub 2016 Jun 8.


Purpose: To develop a fully automatic algorithm for abdominal organs and adipose tissue compartments segmentation and to assess organ and adipose tissue volume changes in longitudinal water-fat magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) data.

Materials and methods: Axial two-point Dixon images were acquired in 20 obese women (age range 24-65, BMI 34.9±3.8kg/m(2)) before and after a four-week calorie restriction. Abdominal organs, subcutaneous adipose tissue (SAT) compartments (abdominal, anterior, posterior), SAT regions along the feet-head direction and regional visceral adipose tissue (VAT) were assessed by a fully automatic algorithm using morphological operations and a multi-atlas-based segmentation method.

Results: The accuracy of organ segmentation represented by Dice coefficients ranged from 0.672±0.155 for the pancreas to 0.943±0.023 for the liver. Abdominal SAT changes were significantly greater in the posterior than the anterior SAT compartment (-11.4%±5.1% versus -9.5%±6.3%, p<0.001). The loss of VAT that was not located around any organ (-16.1%±8.9%) was significantly greater than the loss of VAT 5cm around liver, left and right kidney, spleen, and pancreas (p<0.05).

Conclusion: The presented fully automatic algorithm showed good performance in abdominal adipose tissue and organ segmentation, and allowed the detection of SAT and VAT subcompartments changes during weight loss.

Keywords: Automatic image segmentation; Subcutaneous adipose tissue (SAT); Visceral adipose tissue (VAT); Water-fat magnetic resonance imaging (MRI); Weight loss.

MeSH terms

  • Abdominal Fat / anatomy & histology
  • Abdominal Fat / diagnostic imaging*
  • Adult
  • Algorithms
  • Body Water / diagnostic imaging*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional / methods
  • Intra-Abdominal Fat / anatomy & histology
  • Intra-Abdominal Fat / diagnostic imaging*
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging* / methods
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / pathology*
  • Obesity / prevention & control
  • Organ Size
  • Reference Values
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Subtraction Technique
  • Weight Loss*