DOI: 10.1002/jcsm.13402 ISSN: 2190-5991

Artificial intelligence‐based analysis of body composition predicts outcome in patients receiving long‐term mechanical circulatory support

Isabell Anna Just, Felix Schoenrath, Luise Roehrich, Emanuel Heil, Julia Stein, Timo Alexander Auer, Uli Fehrenbach, Evgenij Potapov, Natalia Solowjowa, Felix Balzer, Dominik Geisel, Juergen Braun, Georg Boening
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine



Obesity is a known cardiovascular risk factor and associated with higher postoperative complication rates in patients undergoing cardiac surgery. In heart failure (HF), conflicting evidence in terms of survival has been reported, whereas sarcopenia is associated with poor prognosis. An increasing number of HF patients require left ventricular assist device (LVAD) implantations. The postoperative mortality has improved in recent years but is still relatively high. The impact of body composition on outcome in this population remains unclear. The aim of this investigation was to examine the preoperative computed tomography (CT) body composition as a predictor of the postoperative outcome in advanced HF patients, who receive LVAD implantations.


Preoperative CT scans of 137 patients who received LVADs between 2015 and 2020 were retrospectively analysed using an artificial intelligence (AI)‐powered automated software tool based on a convolutional neural network, U‐net, developed for image segmentation (Visage Version 7.1, Visage Imaging GmbH, Berlin, Germany). Assessment of body composition included visceral and subcutaneous adipose tissue areas (VAT and SAT), psoas and total abdominal muscle areas and sarcopenia (defined by lumbar skeletal muscle indexes). The body composition parameters were correlated with postoperative major complication rates, survival and postoperative 6‐min walk distance (6MWD) and quality of life (QoL).


The mean age of patients was 58.21 ± 11.9 years; 122 (89.1%) were male. Most patients had severe HF requiring inotropes (Interagency Registry for Mechanically Assisted Circulatory Support [INTERMACS] profile I–III, 71.9%) secondary to coronary artery diseases or dilated cardiomyopathy (96.4%). Forty‐four (32.1%) patients were obese (body mass index ≥ 30 kg/m2), 96 (70.1%) were sarcopene and 19 (13.9%) were sarcopene obese. Adipose tissue was associated with a significantly higher risk of postoperative infections (VAT 172.23 cm2 [54.96, 288.32 cm2] vs. 124.04 cm2 [56.57, 186.25 cm2], P = 0.022) and in‐hospital mortality (VAT 168.11 cm2 [134.19, 285.27 cm2] vs. 135.42 cm2 [49.44, 227.91 cm2], P = 0.033; SAT 227.28 cm2 [139.38, 304.35 cm2] vs. 173.81 cm2 [97.65, 254.16 cm2], P = 0.009). Obese patients showed no improvement of 6MWD and QoL within 6 months postoperatively (obese: +0.94 ± 161.44 months, P = 0.982; non‐obese: +166.90 ± 139.00 months, P < 0.000; obese: +0.088 ± 0.421, P = 0.376; non‐obese: +0.199 ± 0.324, P = 0.002, respectively). Sarcopenia did not influence the postoperative outcome and survival within 1 year after LVAD implantation.


Preoperative AI‐based CT body composition identifies patients with poor outcome after LVAD implantation. Greater adipose tissue areas are associated with an increased risk for postoperative infections, in‐hospital mortality and impaired 6MWD and QoL within 6 months postoperatively.

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