In this large observational study of 2106 patients >65 years admitted for syncope, researchers evaluated the frequency, yield, and cost of common diagnostic tests. The most commonly performed tests included EKG (99%), telemetry (95%) and cardiac enzymes (95%). All of the following tests affected diagnosis, management, or determined etiology in <5% of cases: Echo, cardiac enzymes, CT scans, carotid USG, and EEG. Postural BP affected diagnosis or management or etiology between 15-30% of cases. EEG, CT scans and cardiac enzymes were the least cost effective, and postural BP was the most cost effective (but was only performed in 38% of cases). A step-wise approach to diagnostic testing (after careful history, exam, and postural BP testing) should be utilized in older patients with syncope (abstract).
Dr. Scheurer is a clinical hospitalist and the Medical Director of Quality and Safety at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, South Carolina, and is Assistant Professor of Medicine. She is a graduate of the University of Tennessee College of Medicine, completed her residency at Duke University, and completed her Masters in Clinical Research at the Medical University of South Carolina. She also serves as the Web Editor and Physician Advisor for the Society of Hospital Medicine.