A new management of syncope: Prospective systematic guideline-based evaluation of patients referred urgently to general hospitals

Michele Brignole, Carlo Menozzi, Angelo Bartoletti, Franco Giada, Alfonso Lagi, Andrea Ungar, Irene Ponassi, Chiara Mussi, Roberto Maggi, Giuseppe Re, Raffaello Furlan, Gianni Rovelli, Patrizia Ponzi, Alessandro Scivales

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aims: The guidelines of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) define the current standard for the management of syncope, but are still incompletely applied in the clinical setting. Methods and results: Prospective systematic evaluation, on strict adherence to the guidelines, of consecutive patients referred for syncope to the emergency departments of 11 general hospitals. In order to maximize the application, a decision-making guideline-based software was used and trained core medical personnel were designated-both locally in each hospital and centrally - to verify adherence to the diagnostic pathway and give advice on its correction. A diagnostic work-up consistent with the guidelines was completed in 465/541 patients (86%). A definite diagnosis was established in 98% (unexplained in 2%): neurally mediated syncope accounted for 66% of diagnosis, orthostatic hypotension 10%, primary arrhythmias 11%, structural cardiac or cardiopulmonary disease 5%, and non-syncopal attacks 6%, respectively. The initial evaluation (consisting of history, physical examination, and standard electrocardiogram) established a diagnosis in 50% of cases. Hospitalization for the management of syncope was appropriate in 25% and was required for other reasons in a further 13% of cases. The median in-hospital stay was 5.5 days (interquartile range, 3-9). Apart from the initial evaluation, a mean of 1.9 ± 1.1 appropriate tests per patient was performed in 193 patients and led to a final diagnosis in 182 of these (94%). Conclusion The results of this study assess the current standard for the management of syncope on the basis of a rigorous adherence to guidelines of the ESC and provide a frame of reference for daily activity when dealing with syncope.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)76-82
Number of pages7
JournalEuropean Heart Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2006


  • Decision making system
  • Diagnosis
  • Guidelines
  • Syncope

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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