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Does abdominal obesity cause increase in the amount of epidural fat?


It is known that epidural fat does not alter in obese people. This study aims to find out a possible relationship with epidural fat and abdominal obesity. In this cross-sectional study, 63 patients who were referred to our clinic for lumbar magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) examination were evaluated. Patients with the history of steroid treatment, thyroid disease or Cushing disease were excluded. Waist circumferences (WC), body weight and height were measured and subsequently body-mass index (BMI) was calculated (kg/m²). On midsagittal T1-weighted images, anterior epidural fat (AEF), posterior epidural fat (PEF) and posterior subcutaneous fat (SCF) thicknesses were measured at the S1 level. The results were compared with age, gender, body weight, height, WC and BMI. There were 31 men and 32 women, age ranged 19–77 years (mean 49). The mean BMI was 29.25 kg/m² (20.7–52.7); the mean WC was 97.4 ± 13.2 cm (72–122) in women and 97.6 ± 9.8 cm (72–118) in men. Cutoff value of WC was considered as 88 cm for women and 95 cm for men. BMI > 27.5 was considered to be obese. No statistical difference with respect to epidural fat thickness between genders was determined in AEF and PEF (P = 0.237, P = 0.616). SCF was significantly thicker in women (P = 0.021). A very poor and negative correlation was found between age and PEF (r = 0.373, P = 0.003), and a very poor and positive correlation between weight and PEF was found (r = 396, P = 0.001). The thickness of the epidural fat was not differ between obese and nonobese people (p = 0.571 for AEF and p = 0.307 for PEF). The thickness of the epidural fat was not different in people whose WC was greater than normal values in both gender (p > 0.05). Epidural fat is not affected by age, gender, BMI and WC which means that epidural fatty layer. A clear correlation has not been found between epidural fat amount and obesity or abnormal fat distribution yet.

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Correspondence to Banu Alicioglu.

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Alicioglu, B., Sarac, A. & Tokuc, B. Does abdominal obesity cause increase in the amount of epidural fat?. Eur Spine J 17, 1324–1328 (2008).

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  • Fat
  • Lipomatosis
  • Magnetic resonance Imaging
  • Spinal canal