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Nutrición Hospitalaria

On-line version ISSN 1699-5198Print version ISSN 0212-1611


TABITA MURESAN, Bianca et al. Measurement of body composition in cancer patients using CT planning scan at the third lumbar vertebra. Nutr. Hosp. [online]. 2019, vol.36, n.6, pp.1307-1314.  Epub Feb 24, 2020. ISSN 1699-5198.


the main objective was to assess body composition in terms of skeletal muscle index (SMI), myosteatosis, visceral adipose tissue (VAT), subcutaneous adipose tissue (SAT), and intermuscular adipose tissue (IMAT) as an adjunct of information provided by radiotherapy CT planning scan.

Material and methods:

a sample of 49 patients with lung and digestive cancers underwent a CT scan for radiotherapy treatment, which included measurements at the L3 region. Images were analyzed with a radiotherapy contouring software, using different Hounsfield Unit (HU) settings. Cross-sectional areas (cm2) were automatically computed by summing tissue pixels and multiplying by pixel surface area. Low SMI (cm2/m2) and muscle density (HU) were determined according to the recently established cut-off points.


the prevalence of low SMI was detected in 46.94% of patients, being present in 8 women, 4 men with BMI < 25 kg/m2, and 11 men with BMI ≥ 25 kg/m2. The average mean skeletal attenuation of total skeletal muscle area was 29.02 (± 8.66) HU, and myosteatosis was present in 13 women (81.25%) and 31 men (93.94%). Mean SAT was 131.92 (± 76.80) cm2, mean VAT was 133.19 (± 85.28) cm2, and mean IMAT was 11.29 (± 12.86) cm.


skeletal muscle abnormalities are frequently present in cancer patients and a low SMI may also exist even in the presence of overweight. As CT scans are an important tool at any radiation oncology department, they could also be used to offer highly sensitive and specific information about body composition, as well as to detect early malnutrition before starting radiotherapy treatment.

Keywords : Cancer; Radiotherapy; CT scan; Body composition.

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