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Upright tilt table testing in the evaluation of syncope

Brian Olshansky, MD
Section Editor
Bernard J Gersh, MB, ChB, DPhil, FRCP, MACC
Deputy Editor
Brian C Downey, MD, FACC


The upright tilt table test is commonly performed for the evaluation of syncope, although the test has limited specificity, sensitivity, and reproducibility. It may be helpful particularly in young, otherwise healthy patients in whom the diagnosis of vasovagal (neurocardiogenic) syncope is suspected but not certain [1-3]. It is also useful in older persons in whom the cause of syncope remains unclear, but vasovagal syncope is suspected [3,4].

The utility of and protocol for tilt table testing will be reviewed here. The general evaluation of the patient with syncope and vasovagal syncope and other types of reflex (neurally-mediated) syncope is discussed separately. (See "Syncope in adults: Clinical manifestations and diagnostic evaluation" and "Reflex syncope".)


We agree with the 2015 Heart Rhythm Society Expert Consensus Statement on the Diagnosis and Treatment of Postural Tachycardia Syndrome, Inappropriate Sinus Tachycardia, and Vasovagal Syncope [5] and the 2009 European Society of Cardiology indications for upright tilt table testing in the following clinical settings [1]:

Detailed autonomic testing, transthoracic echocardiogram, tilt-table testing, and exercise stress testing may be considered for selected patients being assessed for POTS:

Recurrent episodes of syncope in the absence of organic heart disease, or in the presence of organic heart disease after cardiac causes of syncope have been excluded.


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Literature review current through: Jan 2017. | This topic last updated: Thu Nov 12 00:00:00 GMT+00:00 2015.
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