Original Article | Published:

DEXA: a practical and accurate tool to demonstrate total and regional bone loss, lean tissue loss and fat mass gain in paraplegia

Spinal Cord volume 36, pages 637640 (1998) | Download Citation



Persons with spinal cord injury lose lean tissue mass and bone but gain body fat. There is a need to quantify the magnitude of these changes in body composition because there are associated skeletal and cardiovascular health risks. We have compared total body and regional (lower limb) differences in body composition in a group of males with paraplegia and in healthy able-bodied males matched for age, and height using dual energy X-ray absorptiometry. Although patients and controls had similar body mass indices, significant reductions in lean tissue mass (16% less) and bone (12% less) were observed in those with spinal cord injury. Group differences were even more pronounced in the lower limb. DEXA also revealed large increases in fat mass in subjects who did not look obese, total fat mass being 47% higher in the paraplegic group. We suggest that DEXA provides a simple and practical means to quantify both whole body and regional changes in body composition associated with spinal cord injury.

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  1. The School of Physical Education, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand

    • L M Jones
    •  & D F Gerrard
  2. Department of Medicine, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand

    • A Goulding


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Correspondence to L M Jones.

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