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J Investig Med. 2018 Jun;66(5):1-9. doi: 10.1136/jim-2018-000722. Epub 2018 Mar 25.

Advanced body composition assessment: from body mass index to body composition profiling.

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Department of Biomedical Engineering, Linköping University, Linköping, Sweden.
Center for Medical Image Science and Visualization (CMIV), Linköping University, Linköping, Sweden.
Advanced MR Analytics AB, Linköping, Sweden.
Department of Medical and Health Sciences, Linköping University, Linköping, Sweden.
Research Centre for Optimal Health, University of Westminster, London, UK.
MRC Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit, University of Southampton, Southampton, UK.
NIHR Southampton Biomedical Research Centre, University of Southampton, University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, Southampton, UK.
Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA.


This paper gives a brief overview of common non-invasive techniques for body composition analysis and a more in-depth review of a body composition assessment method based on fat-referenced quantitative MRI. Earlier published studies of this method are summarized, and a previously unpublished validation study, based on 4753 subjects from the UK Biobank imaging cohort, comparing the quantitative MRI method with dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) is presented. For whole-body measurements of adipose tissue (AT) or fat and lean tissue (LT), DXA and quantitative MRIs show excellent agreement with linear correlation of 0.99 and 0.97, and coefficient of variation (CV) of 4.5 and 4.6 per cent for fat (computed from AT) and LT, respectively, but the agreement was found significantly lower for visceral adipose tissue, with a CV of >20 per cent. The additional ability of MRI to also measure muscle volumes, muscle AT infiltration and ectopic fat, in combination with rapid scanning protocols and efficient image analysis tools, makes quantitative MRI a powerful tool for advanced body composition assessment.


body composition; magnetic resonance imaging

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