Montgomery Heart & Wellness
Tilt Table Test at Montgomery Heart & Wellness
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Tilt Table Test

Definition

The tilt table test is a test in which a patient is positioned in a supine position and brought to a predetermined angle or angles from the horizontal position. Such positioning helps to determine the cause of any decrease in oxygen to the brain. Different types of drugs may also used in the testing process.

tilt-table-test

Purpose

The purpose of the tilt table test is to help determine appropriate therapy for individuals with fainting (syncope) and presyncope of unexplained origin.

Precautions

Precautions are few with the tilt table test. The physician should be told of any serious heart-rhythm disorders. Patients should be at least 4 hours fasting, and take all medications as previously prescribed.

Description

Syncope is described as a pathological brief loss of consciousness caused by a temporary deficiency of oxygen in the brain. Previous studies have shown the effectiveness of tilt table testing in establishing the diagnosis of neurocardiogenic syncope, and in dictating therapy in patients with syncope of unknown origin. Despite its usefulness, small numbers of patients and brief follow-up reports have limited the majority of studies. Sensitivity enhancing techniques, such as the administration of isoproterenol, are applied in specific cases to children and young adults to compensate for the otherwise low sensitivity (20-30%) observed in that population.

Preparation

In order for a patient to make informed decisions about any diagnostic test or procedure, there are important questions that need to be asked prior to the procedure. The information gained will be helpful for that patient in determining benefits, risks, and cost of the procedure, and alternatives. The patient should understand the purpose of the tilt table test, and the diagnosis that the physician is trying to confirm or rule out. If the tilt table test is positive, the patient should ask questions about the frequency of false-positive results for that particulate tilt table procedure, and should inquire about the next step in treatment.

Aftercare

After the procedure, the patient is asked to transfer from the supine position to a sitting position, and is observed for a short period of time. During this time and after several minutes in the sitting position, any symptoms of dizziness and vertigo are noted. When ready, the individual transfers from the sitting position to standing. After additional observation and taking of vital signs, the individual is allowed to go home.

Risks

Risks of the tilt table test are low, but do include significant changes in blood pressure while in the supine position.

Normal Results

Normal results of the tilt table test should help the physician in assessing what may or may not be the cause of the syncope.

Abnormal Results

Abnormal results include any pathologic reactions to the position changes.

Key Terms

Sympathomimetic

Denoting a drug that mimics the effects of stimulation of organs and structures by the sympathetic nervous system. The sympathetic nervous system pertains to the part of the nervous system originating in the thoracic and lumbar regions of the spinal cord. In general, it inhibits or opposes the physiological effects of another aspect of the nervous system, as in tending to reduce digestive secretions, speed up the heart, and contract the blood vessels.

Syncope

A loss of consciousness over a short period of time, caused by a temporary lack of oxygen in the brain.

Vertigo

The sensation of dizziness.

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