February 11, 2019

Background: Syncope, defined as a transient loss of consciousness with a complete recovery, is a common ED presentation. There are numerous causes of syncope ranging from the relatively benign (eg vasovagal syncope) to the potentially life-threatening (eg dysrhythmia, ectopic pregnancy, aortic dissection). Among the life-threatening diagnoses is pulmonary embolism (PE). PE is a common cause of sudden, unexpected, non-traumatic death and, syncope in the setting of PE portends poor 30-day outcomes (Roncon 2018). What is not well known is how often ED presentations of syncope are the result of PE. A study in 2016 demonstrated a 17.3% rate of PE in first time syncope presenting to the ED but, had numerous significant biases and limitations (Prandoni 2016). Ultimately, this study is unlikely to reflect the reality of ED syncope cases and lacks external validity. Incorporating the PESIT trial data into clinical assessment would lead to a profound increase in PE evaluation without adding significant benefit. Additional clinical data demonstrating the true prevalence of PE in syncope patients is needed to confirm these suspicions.

January 7, 2019

Background: Syncope, defined as a transient loss of consciousness with spontaneous and complete recovery to pre-event status, is a common emergency department (ED) presentation. Near-syncope is frequently seen as well. Unlike syncope, near-syncope has a more nebulous definition often thought of as the feeling of oncoming syncope without a complete loss of consciousness. Regardless of definition, many providers consider syncope and near-syncope as two ends of a spectrum of disease with near-syncope being not as dangerous and syncope being more dangerous. The literature on this, however, is inconsistent with a 2009 study stating that near-syncope was a “low-risk" factor (Sun 2009) and a 2015 study showing the opposite (Thiruganasambandamoorthy 2015). Additional high-quality data in this area is needed to further elucidate the risk of near-syncope presentations in the ED.

September 11, 2017

Background: Syncope, the sudden, brief loss of consciousness followed by spontaneous, complete recovery is a common presentation to the Emergency Department (ED). It represents a significant portion of overall admissions to the hospital because while many cases are benign (i.e. vasovagal syncope), some may result from a life-threatening cause (ventricular tachydysrhythmia, myocardial ischemia, gastrointestinal bleeding etc). Admission or 24 hour observation is often sought for continuous dysrhythmia monitoring but they are infrequently found. A decision instrument directed at stratifying patients to high or low risk for a dysrhythmia causing syncope (and thus subsequent risk for a recurrent dysrhythmia) would be useful in managing patients with syncope.

October 24, 2016

Background: Syncope is a very frustrating chief complaint for many in the medical field.  There is no gold standard test and no validated decision instrument. It represents about 3 – 5% of ED visits, 1 – 6% of hospital admissions, and in patients over the age of 65 years it is the 6th most common cause of hospitalization [2][3]. Additionally, both ED and inpatient work ups are notoriously low yield for finding significant pathology. Pulmonary embolism is one of the myriad of diagnoses included in the differential diagnosis of syncope, but there is little information looking at its prevalence amongst hospitalized patients. Fast forward to Oct. 20th, 2016 and there is now some evidence just published in the NEJM: The PESIT Trial.