Feasibility of using single-slice MDCT to evaluate visceral abdominal fat in an urban pediatric population

Netta M. Blitman, Lindsay Stanton Baron, Robert G. Berkenblit, Alan H. Schoenfeld, Morri Markowitz, Katherine Freeman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE. Obesity is a growing clinical problem, especially among children of low socioeconomic status. Increased visceral abdominal fat is implicated in the metabolic syndrome and its health consequences. The purpose of this study is to validate measurement of a single MDCT slice as a predictor of total visceral abdominal fat and to correlate over a wide range of body mass indexes (BMIs). MATERIALS AND METHODS. A two-phase retrospective analysis was performed. For validation, MDCTs of 21 consecutive healthy children (8-14 years old) were reviewed. In these cases, visceral abdominal fat and subcutaneous abdominal fat area were calculated using a body fat analysis function from single 0.625-mm MDCT slices at the umbilicus and were compared with total visceral abdominal fat area as measured from T11 to the coccyx. Subsequently, visceral abdominal fat area was obtained from single slices at the umbilicus from abdominal MDCT scans of 146 consecutive healthy children (age range, 6-14 years; 80 boys and 66 girls; 77 Hispanic, 41 African American, 15 white, and 13 multiracial or other race) for whom BMI was available. Associations between visceral abdominal fat area and sex, race, and BMI were determined. Effective radiation dose for a 1.25-mm axial MDCT slice was calculated using a mathematic model that uses derived scaling factors for pediatric patients. RESULTS. Visceral abdominal fat area obtained from a 0.625-mm slice at the umbilicus was highly correlated with total visceral abdominal fat area (r = 0.96; p < 0.0001). Visceral abdominal fat area from single slices at the umbilicus was significantly correlated with BMI (r = 0.72; p < 0.0001). Umbilical visceral abdominal fat area was significantly lower in African American children compared with others (median, 14 vs 22 cm2; p = 0.02) and was not associated with sex. In our population, the effective radiation dose from the smallest obtainable slice was 0.015-0.019 mSv/37-54 kg of patient weight. CONCLUSION. Visceral abdominal fat area calculated from a single abdominal MDCT slice obtained in children is highly correlated with total visceral abdominal fat and with BMI and involves limited radiation exposure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)482-487
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Roentgenology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1 2011



  • Childhood obesity
  • MDCT
  • Pediatrics
  • Visceral abdominal fat

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging

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