Changes in DXA-derived lean mass and MRI-derived cross-sectional area of the thigh are modestly associated

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© 2019, The Author(s). Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) derived measures of lean mass demonstrate strong associations with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) derived measures of muscle volume (MV) in cross-sectional studies, however, few studies have compared changes in response to an intervention. The purpose of this study was to determine the accuracy of DXA at detecting changes in lean mass, using MRI-derived MV as a reference standard. 10 male and 16 female subjects (29.2 ± 9.5 years) underwent DXA and MRI scans before and after a 10-week resistance training intervention. DXA thigh lean mass was compared to MRI mid-thigh MV, and percent change in size was compared between MRI and DXA. There was a strong correlation between measures cross-sectionally (r = 0.89) in agreement with previous investigations. However, there was a modest correlation of percentage change over time between methods (r = 0.49). Bland-Altman plots revealed that the amount of random error increased as the magnitude of the change from baseline increased. DXA measures of change in lean mass were modestly associated with MRI measures of change in MV. While there are several advantages to using DXA for the measurement of lean mass, the inability to accurately detect changes over time calls into question its use in clinical trials.