Patients with inflammatory bowel disease have higher abdominal adiposity and less skeletal mass than healthy controls

Teresa Barroso, Fiona Conway, Sari Emel, Donald McMillan, David Young, Hedvig Kartesi, Daniel R. Gaya, Konstantinos Gerasimidis

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Background Abdominal fat type and distribution have been associated with complicated Crohn’s disease and adverse postoperative outcomes. Few studies have assessed the abdominal distribution of fat and lean stores in patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and compared this with healthy controls. This retrospective study aimed to compare the abdominal body composition in IBD patients who failed medical treatment and who underwent computed tomography (CT) imaging prior to gastrointestinal surgery with healthy controls. Associations between preoperative abdominal body composition and postoperative outcomes within a year of surgery were explored.

Methods Abdominal body composition was evaluated in 22 presurgical patients with medically refractory IBD (18 with Crohn’s disease) and 22 healthy controls, using routinely acquired CT. Total fat, subcutaneous fat, visceral fat, and skeletal muscle cross-sectional area were measured.

Results An independent disease effect was observed, explaining a fat deposition excess of 38 cm2 and a skeletal muscle deficit of 15 cm2 in IBD. Abdominal skeletal muscle correlated with visceral fat for the control (rho=0.51, P=0.015), but not for the IBD group (rho=-0.13, P=0.553). A positive correlation observed between subcutaneous fat with skeletal muscle in the controls (rho=0.47,
P=0.026) was inverted in the IBD group (rho=-0.43, P=0.045). Preoperative abdominal body composition was not predictive of postoperative outcomes.

Conclusions A higher degree of abdominal adiposity, a lower skeletal mass and a larger body size for the same anthropometry can be expected in IBD patients. Preoperative abdominal body composition is not associated with surgical outcomes.

Keywords Inflammatory bowel disease, computed tomography, body composition
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages6
JournalAnnals of Gastroenterology
Early online date25 May 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 25 May 2018


  • inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
  • abdominal body composition
  • fate type and distribution

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