Quantification of fat and skeletal muscle tissue at abdominal computed tomography: associations between single-slice measurements and total compartment volumes

  • Anton FaronEmail author
  • Julian A. Luetkens
  • Frederic C. Schmeel
  • Daniel L.R. Kuetting
  • Daniel Thomas
  • Alois M. Sprinkart



Body composition is of great prognostic value in several severe diseases, including different types of cancer as well as cardiometabolic disorders. We aimed to investigate the correlations of skeletal muscle mass and abdominal adipose tissue compartments between volumetric and single-slice measurements to study the usefulness of several anatomical landmarks for estimation of total compartment volumes using abdominal CT-scans.


In this retrospective study volumetric quantifications of paraspinal skeletal muscles (SM) and adipose tissue compartments (visceral adipose tissue, VAT; subcutaneous adipose tissue, SAT) were performed in 50 consecutive patients (26 male; mean age, 63 ± 15 years) who underwent abdominal multislice-CT for diagnostic purposes using an in-house software. Associations between total volumes of SM, VAT, and SAT with single-slice measurements at eight predefined anatomical landmarks (median intervertebral disk spaces T12/L1 to L5/S1; level of the umbilicus (U); level of the radix of the superior mesenteric artery (SMA)) were studied using correlation coefficients.


Statistical analysis revealed a strong association between single-slice measurements of adipose tissue compartments with total VAT and SAT volume (VAT: all r > 0.89, P < 0.001; SAT: all r > 0.95, P < 0.001). The strongest associations with total SM volume were found for single-slice measurements obtained at L3/4 (r = 0.94, P < 0.001) and were further improved by normalization to height (r = 0.98, P < 0.001).


Single-slice measurements of SM, VAT, and SAT at several anatomical landmarks are strongly associated with total compartment volumes and therefore allow for easy and simultaneous assessment of skeletal muscle mass and adipose tissue compartment volumes.


Sarcopenia Obesity CT Abdomen 



Body mass index


Computed tomography


Region of interest


Subcutaneous adipose tissue


Superior mesenteric artery


Paraspinal skeletal muscle mass


Paraspinal skeletal muscle mass normalized to volume of interest height


Visceral adipose tissue



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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of RadiologyUniversity of BonnBonnGermany

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