Open Access Open Badges Review

A practical guide to bioelectrical impedance analysis using the example of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

Anja Walter-Kroker1, Axel Kroker2, Muriel Mattiucci-Guehlke3 and Thomas Glaab34*

Author affiliations

1 Nutritional Consulting Practice, Emil-Schüller-Straße, Koblenz, 56068, Germany

2 Pneumology Practice, Emil-Schüller-Straße, Koblenz, 56068, Germany

3 Medical Affairs Germany, Boehringer Ingelheim Pharma GmbH & Co. KG, Binger Straße, Ingelheim, 55218, Germany

4 Department of Pulmonary Disease, III. Medical Clinic, Johannes Gutenberg-University, Langenbeckstraße, Mainz, 55131, Germany

For all author emails, please log on.

Citation and License

Nutrition Journal 2011, 10:35  doi:10.1186/1475-2891-10-35

Published: 21 April 2011


Bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA) is a simple, inexpensive, quick and non-invasive technique for measuring body composition. The clinical benefit of BIA can be further enhanced by combining it with bioelectrical impedance vector analysis (BIVA). However, there is a substantial lack of information on the practical aspects of BIA/BIVA for those primarily interested in learning how to use and interpret this method in practice. The purpose of this article is to provide some guidance on the use of BIA/BIVA with special attention to practical considerations.

This report reflects the authors' practical experience with the use of single-frequency BIA in combination with BIVA, particularly in COPD patients. First, the method and principles of BIA/BIVA are briefly described. Then, a practice-oriented approach to the interpretation and analysis of characteristic examples of altered nutritional and fluid status as seen with BIA/BIVA in COPD patients (e.g. malnutrition in obese and underweight patients with COPD, water retention) is presented.

As our examples show BIA/BIVA is an attractive and easy-to-learn tool for quick nutritional assessment and is therefore of great clinical benefit in daily practice.

Bioelectrical impedance analysis; bioelectrical impedance vector analysis; malnutrition; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease