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Br J Radiol. 2018 Sep;91(1089):20170968. doi: 10.1259/bjr.20170968. Epub 2018 Mar 28.

Fully automated segmentation and quantification of visceral and subcutaneous fat at abdominal CT: application to a longitudinal adult screening cohort.

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1 Department of Radiology, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health , Madison, WI , USA.
2 Imaging Biomarkers and Computer-Aided Diagnosis Laboratory, National Institutes of Health Clinical Center , Bethesda, MD , USA.



To investigate a fully automated CT-based adiposity tool, applying it to a longitudinal adult screening cohort.


A validated automated adipose tissue segmentation algorithm was applied to non-contrast abdominal CT scans in 8852 consecutive asymptomatic adults (mean age, 57.1 years; 3926 M/4926 F) undergoing colonography screening. The tool was also applied to follow-up CT scans in a subset of 1584 individuals undergoing longitudinal surveillance (mean interval, 5.6 years). Visceral and subcutaneous adipose tissue (VAT and SAT) volumes were segmented at levels T12-L5. Primary adipose results are reported herein for the L1 level as mean cross-sectional area. CT-based adipose measurements at initial CT and change over time were analyzed.


Mean VAT values were significantly higher in males (205.8 ± 107.5 vs 108.1 ± 82.4 cm2; p < 0.001), whereas mean SAT values were significantly higher in females (171.3 ± 111.3 vs 124.3 ± 79.7 cm2; p < 0.001). The VAT/SAT ratio at L1 was three times higher in males (1.8 ± 0.7 vs 0.6 ± 0.4; p < 0.001). At longitudinal follow-up CT, mean VAT/SAT ratio change was positive in males, but negative in females. Among the 502 individuals where the VAT/SAT ratio increased at follow-up CT, 333 (66.3%) were males. Half of patients (49.6%; 786/1585) showed an interval increase in both VAT and SAT at follow-up CT.


This robust, fully automated CT adiposity tool allows for both individualized and population-based assessment of visceral and subcutaneous abdominal fat. Such data could be automatically derived at abdominal CT regardless of the study indication, potentially allowing for opportunistic cardiovascular risk stratification. Advances in knowledge: The CT-based adiposity tool described herein allows for fully automated measurement of visceral and subcutaneous abdominal fat, which can be used for assessing cardiovascular risk, metabolic syndrome, and for change over time.

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