Fat stranding (CT)

Last revised by Joshua Yap on 2 Oct 2022

Fat stranding is a common sign seen on CT wherever fat can be found. It is most commonly seen in abdomen/pelvis, but can also be seen in retroperitoneum, thorax, neck and subcutaneous tissues. It can be helpful in localizing both acute and chronic pathology.

Radiographic features


Fat stranding is increased attenuation which can be ill-defined, reticular, linear, or in some malignancies, reticulonodular 1. Fat stranding is a non-specific sign in itself and can be seen in infectious, inflammatory, malignant, or traumatic conditions.


There are several patterns of fat stranding in the abdomen which can occur within the mesentery or surrounding solid organs 1,2:


Fat stranding can also be seen in the thorax, and is mainly indicative of mediastinal pathology:

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