A Tilt Table Test is a diagnostic procedure to understand the cause of fainting, syncope or a loss of consciousness in a patient. Fainting or syncope causes vary between individuals. For some, it is a central nervous system issue that slows the heart rate and lowers blood pressure. During a spell of syncope, blood flow slows to the brain and causes one to faint. This type of syncope is called vasovagal, neuro cardiogenic or abnormal vasoregulatory syncope and is considered benign (not dangerous or life-threatening), except for the injuries that can happen when one faints unexpectedly.
A Tile Table Test can trigger the symptoms under close monitoring. This allows cardiologists to better understand the cause of fainting.
Is The Tilt Table Test Safe?
For the most part, a Tilt Table Test is safe. For some patients, it can be an intimidating or scary to try and provoke a fainting spell. However, under close monitoring and through straps keeping a patient’s body in place, this is a routine procedure that is safe. Because the tilt table test is performed in a hospital, the medical staff has access to drugs and other supportive measures in the event that they are required.
What Does A Tilt Table Test Evaluate?
This is used when a patient has frequent fainting spells to evaluate what may be causing it, such as a drop in blood pressure that happens when a part of the nervous system that controls blood pressure is disturbed, or there is significant increase or decrease in heart rate.
- Generally, there is no eating or drinking 4-6 hours prior to the test to limit symptoms of nausea/vomiting
- Ask your physician if you need to discontinue any of your routine medications prior to the test
- When you come to the hospital, wear comfortable clothes. It is best not to wear any jewelry or bring valuables.
- Plan to have someone drive you home after the test.
What Happens During the Test?
During this approximately 90-160 minute test, the patient will change into a gown and lie flat on a tilt table where they are secured with straps. A nurse will insert an IV and connect the patient to a machine that monitors vitals. Patients are asked to remain still through the whole test.
Then the table will be tilted at varying degrees for about 5 minutes at a time until it simulates standing up from a lying position. Then the patient will remain in the standing position for 30-45 minutes. If this does not induce a syncope episode, your cardiologist or nurse practitioner may use medication to stimulate the hormones your body releases during a faint. Then the patient will be tilted again while staying under close monitoring.
If a patient faints, the test is considered positive. When syncope does not occur, the test is negative. After fainting, a patient is returned to a flat position to recover. Recovery is often immediate.