In research journals, there are often operationalisations of such terms as "muscle cross-sectional area", and "muscle volume", and "adipose tissue volume" by means of MRI or CT scanning. Hence, I understand that MRI or CT can be used to measure the area and volume of muscle or fat tissue. It can be used for measurements, eg. for research purposes.

I actually see another potential use for measurement using MRI and CT - to monitor one's muscle and fat volume eg. in a fitness program, to evaluate progress. Hence, I'd like to ask if there are MRI or CT clinics in the world (or wherever you are) that accept patients for MRI or CT for this purpose.

I am in Singapore, and with extensive searching, I have found that MRI and CT services are only available in: universities, the use of which are only for researchers hospitals and private clinics, the use of which can only be summoned by a referral letter from a registered doctor

I find this a little frustrating, and like to know if this is the same elsewhere. Or if you are based in Singapore, please tell me if you know of any MRI or CT services that cater to the purpose I mentioned.

Also, if an MRI or CT is used instead for this purpose, will there be a difference in the way the machine is operated? eg. Must different machine settings be used?

I might also add that I wish to use the MRI and/or CT output for 3D reconstruction eg. with InVesalius (https://invesalius.github.io) and maybe use programming languages like Python to track changes of specific muscles and adipose tissue over time, as I have programming experience. For this to be accomplished, must the radiographer know this beforehand and operate the machine differently? (eg. a photographer will have to change their camera settings to change the output file format to H254 or H265, so I can guess that this is the same for MRI).

P.S. I understand some might say that I can just use body composition machines to fulfil the purpose I mentioned without going to the extent of MRI. eg. from Tanita. But I find these machines a little wanting, in accuracy. Also I cannot monitor the spatial location of fat tissue, and the growth of specific muscles. This is also not for personal monitoring, but also for a larger research and commercial project I am working on.

1 Answer 1


CT scans use ionizing radiation. It's safe to get a CT scan for a medical purpose: the marginal risks of the scan are outweighed by the diagnostic benefits. However, repeated CT scans can potentially raise the risk of cancer. Monitoring ones progress in a fitness program can easily be done with other methods that do not cause cancer. I would consider it medical malpractice to offer CT scans for the purposes you describe.

MRI does not use radiation, but the machines are quite expensive to purchase and operate and potentially dangerous due to the strong magnets interacting with metal. In the US, the average cost of an MRI scan is ~$2600. I'm not sure what a reputable source would be for estimating the cost of an MRI in Singapore, but I see estimates in the $100s. For research or diagnosis these costs are reasonable, but I doubt there is a market of patients willing to pay that cost regularly, and are likely subsidized figures that would not be available for non-medically necessary scans.

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    "I would consider it medical malpractice to offer CT scans for the purposes you describe." - by all means, in Europe if a medical professional performs a CT with a given indication they are saying goodbye to their license
    – practiZ
    Commented Mar 2, 2021 at 16:25
  • "Monitoring ones progress in a fitness program can easily be done with other methods that do not cause cancer." - @Bryan Krause, if you can, pls provide some suggestions on these methods, taking into account my P.S. in my post Commented Mar 3, 2021 at 14:40
  • @forgodsakehold I think it would be a waste of my time to do that without having a more concrete research question first, and more generally I don't think this site is a good forum for that discussion.
    – Bryan Krause
    Commented Mar 3, 2021 at 16:39
  • @forgodsakehold If you're interested in monitoring a fitness program, then the place for questions of that sort is the Physical Fitness exchange. Make sure you search that site first because it's quite likely that similar questions have been asked in the past.
    – Carey Gregory
    Commented Mar 3, 2021 at 21:19
  • 1
    Your link to the US cost doesn't work any more. I pay $440 per hour for research scans (which doesn't include any radiologist time). Commented Aug 28, 2023 at 21:55

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