Syncope and head CT scans in the emergency department

Emerg Radiol. 2005 Dec;12(1-2):44-6. doi: 10.1007/s10140-005-0434-z. Epub 2005 Nov 16.


Context: Patients presenting with syncope to the emergency department (ED) of a community hospital were evaluated.

Aim: The objective of this study is to examine the use and results of head computerized tomography (CT) scans in patients presenting with syncope to the ED of a community hospital.

Settings and design: A retrospective chart review of patients presenting with syncope to the emergency room was conducted.

Methods and materials: We reviewed the charts of patients who presented to the ED over a 6-month period with syncope. When performed, head CT scan findings were noted, and their relationship to the clinical presentation was examined.

Results: One hundred twenty-eight patients were identified. Forty-four patients had their head CT scans performed. In 1 patient, the CT scan showed evidence of infarction in the posterior circulation. In 19 patients, the head CT scan was normal. Twenty-four patients had abnormal findings unrelated to the ED presentation.

Conclusions: Head CT scans were commonly used in our series of syncope patients. Abnormal findings pertinent to the syncope were observed in only 1 patient. A prospective study examining yield in a larger series of patients may help define the utility of this neuroimaging modality in syncope.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Emergency Service, Hospital
  • Female
  • Head / diagnostic imaging*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Syncope / diagnostic imaging*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / methods*