What is the role of head CT scanning in the workup of syncope?

Updated: Jan 13, 2017
  • Author: Rumm Morag, MD, FACEP; Chief Editor: Erik D Schraga, MD  more...
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Head (noncontrast)

Noncontrast computed tomography (CT) of the head is not indicated in a nonfocal patient after a syncopal event. This test has a low diagnostic yield in syncope.

Of 134 patients prospectively evaluated for syncope using CT scanning, 39 patients had abnormal findings on scans. [31] Only one head CT scan was diagnostic in a patient not expected to have intracranial pathology. Of the remaining scans, five showed subdural hematomas thought to be secondary to syncope.

Head CT may be clinically indicated in patients with new neurologic deficits or in patients with head trauma secondary to syncope.

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