RSNA 2017 CT Preview

Muscle attenuation on CT predicts mortality

By Abraham Kim, staff writer

November 2, 2017 --

Monday, November 27 | 10:30 a.m.-10:40 a.m. | SSC09-01 | Room E450B
Researchers have discovered that the condition of paraspinous muscles on CT reveals a difference between the sexes: Muscle attenuation around the spine is associated with mortality in males but not females.

Measuring muscle attenuation can have powerful prognostic value because it is linked with serious clinical problems, according to Dr. Robert Boutin and colleagues from the University of California, Davis; they demonstrated its association with mortality in patients with hip fractures in a prior study. Following this finding, the researchers set out to determine the predictive potential of muscle attenuation along the spine.

"For our research, we were motivated to answer a practical question we face every day at work: Is the way muscle looks on CT really associated with all-cause mortality?" Boutin told

They examined CT scans of 1,176 male and 672 female patients from the National Lung Screening Trial and found that lower paraspinous muscle attenuation values were inversely associated with all-cause mortality in males.

This was the case even when the data were adjusted for age, race, and body mass index (BMI), as well as for a history of smoking and chronic conditions such as cancer and stroke.

"The results of this study add to a growing body of work by our group and others that muscle can be an important indicator of overall patient health, and that this value-added 'vital sign' can be obtained easily -- without additional imaging costs or radiation exposure," he said.