Visceral adipose tissue in patients with COVID-19: risk stratification for severity

Hersh Chandarana, Bari Dane, Artem Mikheev, Myles T. Taffel, Yang Feng, Henry Rusinek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


PURPOSE: To assess visceral (VAT), subcutaneous (SAT), and total adipose tissue (TAT) estimates at abdominopelvic CT in COVID-19 patients with different severity, and analyze Body Mass Index (BMI) and CT estimates of fat content in patients requiring hospitalization.

METHODS: In this retrospective IRB approved HIPPA compliant study, 51 patients with SARS-CoV-2 infection with abdominopelvic CT were included. Patients were stratified based on disease severity as outpatient (no hospital admission) and patients who were hospitalized. Subset of hospitalized patient required mechanical ventilation (MV). A radiologist blinded to the clinical outcome evaluated single axial slice on CT at L3 vertebral body for VAT L3, SAT L3, TAT L3, and VAT/TAT L3. These measures along with age, gender, and BMI were compared. A clinical model that included age, sex, and BMI was compared to clinical + CT model that also included VAT L3 to discriminate hospitalized patients from outpatients.

RESULTS: There were ten outpatients and 41 hospitalized patients. 11 hospitalized patients required MV. There were no significant differences in age and BMI between the hospitalized and outpatients (all p > 0.05). There was significantly higher VAT L3 and VAT/TAT L3 in hospitalized patients compared to the outpatients (all p < 0.05). Area under the curve (AUC) of the clinical + CT model was higher compared to the clinical model (AUC 0.847 versus 0.750) for identifying patients requiring hospitalization.

CONCLUSION: Higher VAT L3 was observed in COVID-19 patients that required hospitalization compared to the outpatients, and addition of VAT L3 to the clinical model improved AUC in discriminating hospitalized from outpatients in this preliminary study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)818-825
Number of pages8
JournalAbdominal Radiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2021


  • COVID-19
  • CT
  • Visceral adipose tissue (VAT)
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed/methods
  • COVID-19/physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Male
  • Intra-Abdominal Fat/diagnostic imaging
  • Young Adult
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Assessment/methods

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gastroenterology
  • Urology
  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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