Diagnostic yield of an ambulatory patch monitor in patients with unexplained syncope after initial evaluation in the emergency department: the PATCH-ED study

Emerg Med J. 2018 Aug;35(8):477-485. doi: 10.1136/emermed-2018-207570. Epub 2018 Jun 19.


Objectives: Diagnosing underlying arrhythmia in ED syncope patients remains problematic. This study investigates diagnostic yield, event prevalence, patient satisfaction and compliance, and influence on resource utilisation of an ambulatory patch monitor in unexplained ED syncope patients.

Methods: Prospective pilot study conducted in a single tertiary ED in Scotland between 17 November 2015 and 16 June 2017 with a historical unmatched comparator group. Patients 16 years or over presenting within 6 hours of unexplained syncope were fitted in the ED with an ambulatory patch ECG recorder (Zio XT monitor), which continuously records a single-lead ECG for up to 14 days. Patients with an obvious underlying cause were excluded. An unmatched historical group of 603 syncope patients with no obvious diagnosis in ED, recruited to a prior cohort study (2007-2008), were used as a comparator. Primary endpoint was symptomatic significant arrhythmia at 90-day follow-up.

Results: During the prospective study period, 86 patients were recruited. 90-day diagnostic yield for symptomatic significant arrhythmia was 10.5% (95% CI 4.0 to 16.9; 9 of 86) versus 2.0% (95% CI 0.9 to 3.1; 12 of 603) in the comparator group. 24 patients (27.9%) had a significant arrhythmia (five serious); 26 patients (30.2%) had serious outcomes (major adverse cardiac event and/or death). Blinded patch report review suggested the patch would significantly reduce requirement for standard outpatient ambulatory ECG monitoring. 56 of 76 returned patches had a diagnostic finding within±45 s of a triggered/diary event (73.7% diagnostic utility; 95% CI 63.7 to 83.6); 34 of 56 (61%) for sinus rhythm or ectopic beats only.

Conclusions: Routine, early ambulatory ECG monitoring in ED patients with unexplained syncope is probably warranted. A large-scale trial comparing this approach to standard care with cost-effectiveness and safety analysis is now required.

Trial registration: NCT02683174.

Keywords: cardiac care, arrythmia.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Electrocardiography, Ambulatory / instrumentation*
  • Emergency Service, Hospital*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Compliance
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Pilot Projects
  • Prospective Studies
  • Scotland
  • Syncope / diagnosis*

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT02683174