Syncope workup: Greater yield in select trauma population.

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BACKGROUND: There is great variation in practice regarding the assessment of trauma patients who present with syncope. The purpose of this study was to determine the yield of screening studies (electrocardiogram, echocardiogram, and carotid duplex) and define characteristics to identify groups that may benefit from these investigations.

METHODS: We conducted a retrospective cohort study of all trauma patients from 2003 to 2015 who received a carotid duplex as part of a syncope evaluation at our urban Level 1 Trauma Center. Demographics, clinical findings as well as interventions undertaken (ie: placement of defibrillators/pacemakers) as a result of the syncope evaluation were collected. Data analysis was performed with STATA 14 and relationships between comorbidities, positive findings and interventions were assessed. Significance was assumed for p < 0.05.

RESULTS: 736 trauma patients were included in the study. The most common mechanism of injury was fall (592, 82%). A history of congestive heart failure (CHF) and/or coronary artery disease (CAD) and age ≥ 65 were significantly associated with abnormal ECG and ECHO findings, but not with severe carotid stenosis. Elevated Injury Severity Scale (ISS) was significantly associated with an abnormal ECHO on both univariate and multivariate analysis. An abnormal ECG was predictive of an abnormal ECHO (p = 0.02). Ten patients (1.4%) underwent placement of a defibrillator and/or pacemaker, all of whom reported having CHF. Only 11 patients (1.7%) had severe carotid stenosis (>70%) requiring intervention.

CONCLUSION: The screening studies used in a syncope evaluation have low yield in the general trauma population. Carotid duplex should not be routinely performed. Cardiac evaluation should be tailored to individuals with cardiac comorbidities, older age and elevated ISS. An ECG should be used as initial screening in this patient cohort.



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Medicine and Health Sciences




Department of Surgery

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