Appropriate use of transthoracic echocardiography in the investigation of general medicine patients presenting with syncope or presyncope

Link to article at PubMed

Postgrad Med J. 2023 May 22;99(1170):279-285. doi: 10.1136/postgradmedj-2021-141416.


STUDY PURPOSE: Routine transthoracic echocardiography (TTE) in patients with syncope or presyncope is resource-intensive. We assessed if risk thresholds defined by a validated risk score may identify patients at low risk of cardiac abnormality in whom TTE is unnecessary.

STUDY DESIGN: We conducted a retrospective study of all general medicine patients with syncope/presyncope presenting to a tertiary hospital between July 2016 and September 2020 and who underwent TTE. The Canadian Syncope Risk Score (CSRS) was used to categorise patients as low to very low risk (score -3 to 0) or moderate to high risk (score ≥1) for serious adverse events at 30 days. A cut-point of 0 was used to calculate the sensitivity, specificity, positive and negative predictive values (PPV and NPV) for CSRS and the odds ratio (OR) of a clinically significant finding on TTE in patients with CSRS ≥1 compared with all patients.

RESULTS: Among 157 patients, the CSRS categorised 69 (44%) as very low to low risk in whom TTE was normal. In 88 patients deemed moderate to high risk, TTE detected a cardiac abnormality in 24 (27%). A CSRS ≥1 yielded a sensitivity of 100% (95% CI 85.7% to 100%), specificity of 51.1% (95% CI 42.3% to 59.8%), PPV of 26.5% (95% CI 26.3% to 30.1%) and NPV of 100% (95% CI 92.5% to 100%) for cardiac abnormalities and doubled the odds of an abnormality (OR = 2.05, 95% CI 1.08 to 3.87, p = 0.028).

CONCLUSION: In general medicine patients with syncope/presyncope, using the CSRS to stratify risk of a cardiac abnormality on TTE can almost halve TTE use.

PMID:37227975 | DOI:10.1136/postgradmedj-2021-141416

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