PURPOSE OF REVIEW: To help guide metabolic support in critical care, an understanding of patients' nutritional status and risk is important. Several methods to monitor lean body mass are increasingly used in the ICU and knowledge about their advantages and limitations is essential.
RECENT FINDINGS: Computed tomography scan analysis, musculoskeletal ultrasound, and bioelectrical impedance analysis are emerging as powerful clinical tools to monitor lean body mass during ICU stay. Accuracy, expertise, ease of use at the bedside, and costs are important factors which play a role in determining which method is most suitable. Exciting new research provides an insight into not only quantitative measurements, but also qualitative measurements of lean body mass, such as infiltration of adipose tissue and intramuscular glycogen storage.
SUMMARY: Methods to monitor lean body mass in the ICU are under constant development, improving upon bedside usability and offering new modalities to measure. This provides clinicians with valuable markers with which to identify patients at high nutritional risk and to evaluate metabolic support during critical illness.