Trauma and syncope: looking beyond the injury

Link to article at PubMed

Trauma Surg Acute Care Open. 2023 Feb 2;8(1):e001036. doi: 10.1136/tsaco-2022-001036. eCollection 2023.


BACKGROUND: 42% of the population experience syncope by the age of 70, accounting for up to 6% of hospital admissions that frequently present as falls. The etiologies of some falls are benign, and others, such as cardiac syncope, are associated with a greater mortality and must be identified.

METHODS: This review article aims to bridge the literature gap by providing a comprehensive practice review and critical summary of the current syncope guidance relating to the trauma patient.

RESULTS: The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, the American College of Cardiology, and European Society of Cardiology published syncope risk stratification guidance. The inclusion of certain high-risk features represented in all three guidelines suggests their significance to identify cardiac syncope including heart failure, abnormal vital signs, syncope during exercise with little to no prodrome, family history of sudden cardiac death, and ECG abnormalities. Of 11 syncope risk stratification scoring systems based on these guidelines, only 2 are externally validated in the emergency department, neither of which are validated for major trauma use. Adherence to thorough history-taking, examination, orthostatic blood pressure recording, and an ECG can diagnose the cause of syncope in up to 50% of patients. ECG findings are 95% to 98% sensitive in the detection of serious adverse outcomes after cardiac syncope and should form part of a standardized syncope trauma assessment. Routine blood testing in trauma is often performed despite evidence that it is neither useful nor cost effective, where the screening of cardiac enzymes and D-dimer rarely influences management.

DISCUSSION: In the absence of a gold-standard clinical test to identify the cause of a syncopal episode, standardized syncope guidelines as described in this review could be incorporated into trauma protocols to analyze high-risk etiologies, improve diagnostic accuracy, reduce unnecessary investigations, and develop an effective and safer management strategy.

PMID:36744295 | PMC:PMC9896213 | DOI:10.1136/tsaco-2022-001036

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