Validation of Peripheral Quantitative Computed Tomography–Derived Thigh Adipose Tissue Subcompartments in Young Girls Using a 3 T MRI Scanner

Robert M. Blew, Vinson R. Lee, Jennifer W. Bea, Megan C. Hetherington-Rauth, Jean Phillipe Galons, Maria I. Altbach, Timothy G. Lohman, Scott B. Going

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


The ability to assess skeletal muscle adipose tissue is important given the negative clinical implications associated with greater fat infiltration of the muscle. Computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) are highly accurate for measuring appendicular soft tissue and muscle composition, but have limitations. Peripheral quantitative computed tomography (pQCT) is an alternative that investigators find valuable because of its low radiation, fast scan time, and comparatively lower costs. The present investigation sought to assess the accuracy of pQCT-derived estimates of total, subcutaneous, skeletal muscle, intermuscular, and calculated intramuscular adipose tissue areas, and muscle density in the midthigh of young girls using the gold standard, 3 T MRI, as the criterion. Cross-sectional data were analyzed for 26 healthy girls aged 9–12 years. Midthigh soft tissue composition was assessed by both pQCT and 3 T MRI. Mean tissue area for corresponding adipose compartments by pQCT and MRI was compared using t tests, regression analysis, and Bland-Altman plots. Muscle density was regressed on MRI skeletal muscle adipose tissue, intermuscular adipose tissue, and intramuscular adipose tissue, each expressed as a percentage of total muscle area. Correlations were high between MRI and pQCT for total adipose tissue (r2 = 0.98), subcutaneous adipose tissue (r2 = 0.95), skeletal muscle adipose tissue (r2 = 0.83), and intermuscular adipose tissue (r2 = 0.82), and pQCT muscle density correlated well with both MRI skeletal muscle adipose tissue (r2 = 0.70) and MRI intermuscular adipose tissue (r2 = 0.70). There was a slight, but statistically significant underestimation by pQCT for total and subcutaneous adipose tissue, whereas no significant difference was observed for skeletal muscle adipose tissue. Both pQCT-estimated intramuscular adipose tissue and muscle density were weakly correlated with MRI-intramuscular adipose tissue. We conclude that pQCT is a valid measurement technique for estimating all adipose subcompartments, except for intramuscular adipose tissue, for the midthigh region in young/adolescent girls.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)583-594
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Clinical Densitometry
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2018


  • Adipose
  • intermuscular
  • intramuscular
  • muscle density
  • pQCT

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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