The impact of diagnostic tests in evaluating patients with syncope

Yale J Biol Med. Jan-Feb 1983;56(1):1-8.


We reviewed the charts of 100 patients admitted to the hospital for evaluation of syncope. The charts were examined with special attention given to the causes of syncope, the frequency and benefit of diagnostic tests, and the relative cost of these tests. In 39 patients no etiology for syncope was found, and another 18 were felt to have had a vasovagal episode. Twelve patients had arrhythmias as the cause for syncope. Most of the patients underwent a variety of diagnostic tests including cardiac enzyme determinations, brain scans, electroencephalograms, head CAT scans, and Holter monitoring. In most instances, these tests added little useful information to the initial history and physical exam and were done at great expense to the patient. Our data suggest that extensive neurologic testing in patients with "routine" syncope is not warranted and that the focus of hospitalization should be to rule out potentially life-threatening arrhythmias.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Diagnostic Tests, Routine / methods*
  • Female
  • Heart Function Tests
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neurologic Examination
  • Syncope / diagnosis*
  • Syncope / etiology
  • Syncope / physiopathology