Utility of Chest Radiography in Emergency Department Patients Presenting with Syncope

  • Wong M
  • Chiu D
  • Shapiro N
  • et al.
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© 2016 Wong et al.Introduction: Syncope has myriad etiologies, ranging from benign to immediately life threatening. This frequently leads to over testing. Chest radiographs (CXR) are among these commonly performed tests despite their uncertain diagnostic yield. The objective is to study the distribution of normal and abnormal chest radiographs in patients presenting with syncope, stratified by those who did or did not have an adverse event at 30 days. Methods: We performed a post-hoc analysis of a prospective cohort of consecutive patients presenting to an urban tertiary care academic medical center with a chief complaint of syncope from 2003-2006. The frequency and findings for each CXR were reviewed, as well as emergency department and hospital discharge diagnoses, and 30-day outcome. Results: There were 575 total subjects, 39.7% were male, and the mean age was 57.2 (SD 24.6). Of the 575 subjects, 403 (70.1%) had CXRs performed, and 116 (20.2%) had an adverse event after their syncope. Of the 116 people who had an adverse event, 15 (12.9%) had a positive CXR, 81 (69.8%) had a normal CXR, and 20 (17.2%) did not have a CXR as part of the initial evaluation. Among the 459 people who did not have an adverse event, 3 (0.7%) had a positive CXR, 304 (66.2%) had a normal CXR, and 152 (33.1%) did not have a CXR performed. Fifteen of the 18 patients (83.4%) with an abnormal CXR had an adverse event. Eighty-one of the 385 patients (21.0%) with a normal CXR had an adverse event. Among those who had a CXR performed, an abnormal CXR was associated with increased odds of adverse event (OR: 18.77 (95% CI= [5.3-66.4])). Conclusion: Syncope patients with abnormal CXRs are likely to experience an adverse event, though the majority of CXRs performed in the work up of syncope are normal.




Wong, M., Chiu, D., Shapiro, N., & Grossman, S. (2017). Utility of Chest Radiography in Emergency Department Patients Presenting with Syncope. Western Journal of Emergency Medicine, 17(6), 698–701. https://doi.org/10.5811/westjem.2016.8.29897

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