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.
- accident & emergency medicine
- internal medicine
- statistics & research methods
Data availability statement
All data relevant to the study are included in the article or uploaded as supplementary information.
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Contributors PS designed the study, undertook data extraction and analysis, and wrote the first draft of the manuscript. IS assisted in study design, supervised the study, critically appraised and edited the manuscript, and is responsible for the overall content as guarantor.
Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.
Competing interests None declared.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
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