Henry Ford Hospital Medical Journal


The status of the human body's major components (adipose mass, lean mass, body water, etc) and their change with time are of clinical importance. Deviation of these body components from a stable condition may be imposed by nutrition or disease, and a return to the normal body state may be brought about by appropriate medical care. Thus accurate quantitation of these components is an important goal. This field of study can be traced to the early 1800s, with a major thrust starting in the 1940s and continuing lo the present. The last four decades have shown an accelerated development of advanced biophysical techniques and associated instrumentation for the noninvasive assay oft he body's major fractions. A few methods have now been used in clinical practice, and others have provided basic data on the makeup of the normal and abnormal body as well as on the effectiveness of medical treatment in restoring normal component ratios. The adipose tissue mass is of special concern since it serves as the body's energy reservoir. Determination of the body's fat fraction is a difficult but avidly sought after quantity in body composition measurement. We describe the major principles and technology currently in use for body component measurement and the clinical applicability of these systems for the determination of the adipose fraction.