MRI Based Validation of Abdominal Adipose Tissue Measurements From DXA in Postmenopausal Women

Jennifer W. Bea, Zhao Chen, Robert M. Blew, Jennifer Skye Nicholas, Shawna Follis, Victoria L. Bland, Ting Yuan David Cheng, Heather M. Ochs-Balcom, Jean Wactawski-Wende, Hailey R. Banack, Marian L. Neuhouser, Deepika Laddu, Marcia L. Stefanick, Jane A. Cauley, Bette Caan, Meryl S. LeBoff, Rowan T. Chlebowski, Andrew O. Odegaard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Introduction: Visceral adipose tissue (VAT) is a hypothesized driver of chronic disease. Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) potentially offers a lower cost and more available alternative compared to gold-standard magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) for quantification of abdominal fat sub-compartments, VAT and subcutaneous adipose tissue (SAT). We sought to validate VAT and SAT area (cm2) from historical DXA scans against MRI. Methodology: Participants (n = 69) from the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) completed a 3 T MRI scan and a whole body DXA scan (Hologic QDR2000 or QDR4500; 2004-2005). A subset of 43 participants were scanned on both DXA devices. DXA-derived VAT and SAT at the 4th lumbar vertebrae (5 cm wide) were analyzed using APEX software (v4.0, Hologic, Inc., Marlborough, MA). MRI VAT and SAT areas for the corresponding DXA region of interest were quantified using sliceOmatic software (v5.0, Tomovision, Magog, Canada). Pearson correlations between MRI and DXA-derived VAT and SAT were computed, and a Bland-Altman analysis was performed. Results: Participants were primarily non-Hispanic white (86%) with a mean age of 70.51 ± 5.79 years and a mean BMI of 27.33 ± 5.40 kg/m2. Correlations between MRI and DXA measured VAT and SAT were 0.90 and 0.92, respectively (p ≤ 0.001). Bland-Altman plots showed that DXA-VAT slightly overestimated VAT on the QDR4500 (-3.31 cm2); this bias was greater in the smaller subset measured on the older DXA model (QDR2000; -30.71 cm2). The overestimation of DXA-SAT was large (-85.16 to -118.66 cm2), but differences were relatively uniform for the QDR4500. Conclusions: New software applied to historic Hologic DXA scans provide estimates of VAT and SAT that are well-correlated with criterion MRI among postmenopausal women.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)189-197
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Clinical Densitometry
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2022


  • Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry
  • body composition
  • magnetic resonance imaging
  • subcutaneous fat
  • visceral fat

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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