Visceral and subcutaneous adiposity measurements in adults: Influence of measurement site

Kenneth J. Ellis, Birgit Grund, Fehmida Visnegarwala, Lisa Thackeray, Collin G. Miller, Charles E. Chesson, Wafaa El-Sadr, Andrew Carr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Objective: Excess abdominal adiposity is a known risk factor for cardiovascular diseases. Computed tomography can be used to examine the visceral (VAT) and subcutaneous (SAT) components of abdominal adiposity, but it is unresolved whether single-slice or multi-slice protocols are needed. Research Method and Procedures: Nine computed tomography scans were obtained in the lumbar spine region of 24 adults. The nine slices were obtained at three intervertebral positions (L2-L3, L3-L4, and L4-L5) and at 7 mm above and below these locations. Intra-site and inter-site differences in SAT, VAT, total adipose tissue, and the VAT/SAT ratio were examined using ANOVA and confidence intervals for pairwise differences between means. Results: Intervertebral SAT values increased from 103.1 ± 50.9 (standard deviation) cm2 at L2-L3 to 153.3 ± 68.8 cm2 at L4-L5, whereas the corresponding VAT values decreased from 164.3 ± 125.4 to 126.0 ± 82.7 cm 2. The VAT/SAT ratio was not constant, decreasing from 1.8 ± 1.4 to 0.9 ± 0.7. Repeated-measures ANOVA indicated significant inter- and intra-site differences (p ≤ 0.02) for SAT, VAT, and the VAT/SAT ratio at L3-L4 and L4-L5 (p < 0.001). Discussion: These differences show the limitation of using a single-slice assessment of abdominal fat distribution, both for a subject and between subjects. Furthermore, the size-able differences in the intra-site scans indicate that precise repositioning is needed for longitudinal studies. In summary, our findings suggest that a multi-site imaging protocol may provide a more complete assessment of abdominal fat stores and distribution than use of a single site.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1441-1447
Number of pages7
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2007


  • Abdominal adiposity
  • Computed tomography
  • Human immunodeficiency virus
  • Lipodystrophy


Dive into the research topics of 'Visceral and subcutaneous adiposity measurements in adults: Influence of measurement site'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this