Visceral Fat: The Invisible Health Risk– It is well-established that both the distribution and volume of fat, especially visceral adipose tissue (VAT), is a predictor of future health. While normal amounts of visceral fat pad and protect organs, an excess amount of VAT is strongly associated with metabolic syndrome and increases health risks for cancer, stroke, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and hypertension. Excess VAT can impact lifestyle by increasing the risk of dementia, depression, arthritis, sexual dysfunction, and sleep disorders. Storing excess fat around the organs increases the production of inflammatory substances that interfere with hormones that control appetite, weight, mood, and brain function.
There are several methods for quantifying VAT, including waist-to-hip measurement, bioelectrical impedance, dual-energy absorptiometry (DEXA), CT, MRI, and ultrasound. Although CT is considered the gold standard because of its accuracy and reliability, its drawbacks are patient exposure to ionizing radiation and the relatively high cost of a CT exam.
DEXA has been found to be an accurate means for measuring VAT volume and is generally more accessible to patients. DEXA offers several advantages compared to CT including reduced radiation dose, decreased scan times, and lower cost. Importantly, obtaining VAT measurements with DEXA is easily performed in conjunction with evaluation of bone mineral density, fracture assessment and risk, and whole body composition.
Discuss the health risks associated with excess body fat, especially visceral fat.
Explain how excess visceral fat produces inflammatory substances that can interfere both with hormone function and the development of metabolic syndrome.
Evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of anthropomorphic and imaging for quantifying fat volume.
Implement DEXA protocols to accurately quantify visceral fat volume.
Enlighten and educate patients on body fat assessment and means for managing and improving their health.
1.0 Free ARRT CEUs for Radiologic Technicians
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