Development and validation of visceral fat quantification as a surrogate marker for differentiation of Crohn's disease and intestinal tuberculosis

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Background and Aim:

Crohn's disease (CD) and intestinal tuberculosis (ITB) have close phenotypic resemblance. Mesenteric fat (a component of visceral fat [VF]) hypertrophy and fat wrapping, which is visible radiologically as fibrofatty proliferation, is seen more commonly in CD than in ITB.


The present study was conducted to study the role of VF in differentiating CD and ITB.


Visceral fat area and subcutaneous (SC) fat area were measured on computed tomography in two cohorts (development and validation). VF/SC ratio was also calculated for all patients. In the development cohort, retrospective data collection was carried out for 75 patients with CD and ITB who were on follow-up from January 2012 to November 2014. In the validation cohort, 82 patients were recruited prospectively from December 2014 to December 2015 and were diagnosed as CD or ITB according to standard diagnostic criteria.


Visceral fat area and VF/SC ratio were significantly higher in CD patients (n = 42: development, n = 46: validation) than in ITB patients (n = 33: development, n = 36: validation) in both the development (106.2 ± 63.5 vs 37.3 ± 22, P = <0.001; 1.1 ± 0.57 vs 0.43 ± 0.24, P = <0.001) and validation cohorts (102.2 ± 69.8 vs 55.8 ± 44.9, P = 0.01; 1.2 ± 0.68 vs 0.56 ± 0.33, P = <0.001). A cut-off of 0.63 for VF/SC ratio in the development cohort had a high sensitivity (82%) and specificity (81%) in differentiating CD and ITB. Similar sensitivity (81%) and specificity (78%) were seen when this cut-off was applied in the validation cohort.


The VF/SC ratio is a simple, cost-effective, non-invasive and single objective parameter with a good sensitivity and specificity to differentiate CD and ITB.

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