Clinical approach to diagnosis of syncope: An overview

David G Benditt, Keith G Lurie, W. H. Fabian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Effective management of the syncope patient is critically dependent on excluding conditions in which altered consciousness is not due to syncope (e.g., seizure and sleep disorders) then establishing the basis for syncopal symptoms. The initial diagnostic step in syncope patients is differentiation of those individuals with normal cardiovascular status from those with structural heart disease. In the former, tilt-table testing and related studies of autonomic nervous system function are usually the most productive direction in which to proceed. In patients with structural heart disease, a functional assessment of the suspected structural disturbance (i.e., hemodynamic, angiographic, imaging as appropriate) and evaluation for susceptibility to symptomatic arrhythmias by monitoring or conventional electrophysiologic testing is appropriate. Autonomic function testing should follow if the diagnosis remains unclear. In only a few instances should specialized neurologic studies be undertaken as an initial step. The ultimate objective is always to obtain a sufficiently strong correlation between syncopal symptoms and detected abnormalities to feel confident in the diagnosis, permit an accurate assessment of prognosis, and develop an appropriate treatment plan.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)165-176
Number of pages12
JournalCardiology Clinics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 1997

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