Bioimpedance measurements of human body composition: critical analysis and outlook

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Bioimpedance spectroscopy represents one of the largest emerging medical device technologies. The method is generally known as impedance spectroscopy and is an inexpensive, yet extremely powerful, analytical technique for studying the electrical properties of materials. Much of what we know about biological cells and tissues comes from use of this technique in vitro. Due to the high impedance of the cell membrane, current flow through the cell is frequency dependent and this allows the fluid volume inside versus outside the body's cells to be determined. The fluid outside the cells is primarily related to fluid volume status while the intracellular fluid also relates to the body's cellular mass. Technical advances have removed much of the method's basic complexities. The first commercial bioimpedance spectroscopy device for in vivo human body composition studies was introduced in 1990. Major strides have been made and the method is now poised to enter mainstream clinical medicine but the field is only in its infancy. This paper attempts to fully describe the current use of impedance in the body composition field.

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