Dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) is a reference method for assessing body composition but is seldom `accessible in veterinary settings. Computed tomography (CT) can provide similar body composition estimates and we propose that it can be used in body composition studies in animals. We compared CT and DEXA data from 73 healthy adult neutered domestic cats. Three approaches for measuring adipose tissue percentage from full-body CT scans were explored. By examining the frequency distribution of voxels by Hounsfield unit (HU) value, it is possible to calculate a fat index (Fat%) that is in close agreement with the fat percentages obtained from DEXA scans. Fat% values obtained by the best of the methods had a mean difference of 0.96% (95% confidence interval 0.33-1.59%) from the DEXA results. Fat% obtained by the other two methods were characterized by good correlation but poor agreement and in one of the methods, the difference between the values from the two modalities was proportional to their mean. By using CT, it is possible to obtain body composition estimates that are in close agreement with those available using DEXA. While the significance of individual Fat% measurements obtained from CT can be difficult to interpret and to compare between centers, CT can contribute to research studies concerned either with nutrition or with obesity-related disorders.
Vet Radiol Ultrasound