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Tilt table test

A tilt table test is a medical procedure often used to diagnose dysautonomia or syncope. Patients with symptoms of dizziness or lightheadedness, with or without a loss of consciousness (fainting), suspected to be associated with a drop in blood pressure are good candidates for this test.


Before actually taking the test, the patient may be instructed to fast for a period before the test will take place, and to go off of any medications he or she is taking. On the day of the tilt table test, a patient may be monitored using an electrocardiogram (ECG) while lying down. Some facilities insert an intravenous line in case the patient needs to be given medication quickly; however, this may influence the results of the test and may only be indicated in particular circumstances.


A tilt table test can be done in different ways and be modified for individual circumstances. In some cases, the patient will be strapped to a tilt table lying flat and then tilted or suspended completely or almost completely upright (as if standing). Most of the time, a patient is suspended at an angle of sixty to eighty degrees. Sometimes, the patient will be given a drug, such as Glyceryl trinitrate or isoproterenol, to create further susceptibility to the test. In all cases, the patient is instructed not to move. Symptoms, blood pressure, pulse, electrocardiogram, and sometimes blood oxygen saturation are recorded. The test ends when the patient faints or has other significant symptoms, at which time he or she is given medical attention, or after a set period of time (usually from 20 to 45 minutes, depending on the facility or individualized protocol).


A tilt table test is considered positive if the patient experiences symptoms associated with a drop in blood pressure or cardiac arrhythmia. A normal person's blood pressure will not drop dramatically while standing, because the body will compensate for this posture with a slight increase in heart rate and constriction of the blood vessels in the legs.

If this process does not function normally in the patient, the test could provoke minor symptoms to a very severe cardiac episode, depending on the person. A common side effect during tilt table testing is a feeling of heaviness and warmth in the lower extremities. This is due to blood pooling in the legs and, to onlookers, the patient's lower extremities may appear blotchy, pink, or red. Dizziness or lightheadedness may also occur. Tilt table testing could provoke fainting or syncope as this is the purpose of the test and it may not be appropriate, or indeed possible to stop the test before this occurs as the drop in blood pressure or pulse rate associated with a faint can come on in seconds, This is why the patient's blood pressure and ECG should be continuously monitored during the test. In extreme, rare cases, tilt table testing could provoke seizures, or even prolonged asystole. If at any time in tilt table testing, a patient loses consciousness, he or she will be returned to a supine or head down position and will be given immediate medical attention, which could include being given fluids or perhaps atropine or adrenaline.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Tilt_table_test". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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