Tilt Table Test

If your child has experienced syncope, or a brief loss of consciousness due to fainting, your physician may order a tilt table test. A Children’s Heart Center physician orders this test, but it is performed at a separate facility.

During the tilt table test, the patient is placed on a special exam table that enables them to be raised almost completely upright, as well as lie flat on their back. For this to be possible, mild safety restraints are used. An intravenous line may be placed so medications and other fluids can be injected if needed. A blood pressure cuff is also applied to one arm, and electrodes are placed on the patient’s chest. The patient’s symptoms, blood pressure and heart rate are constantly monitored during the entire test.

The test begins by raising the patient to an almost upright position, usually about 60-80 degrees. While in this position, he/she will be monitored constantly for a certain amount of time, usually around 30-45 minutes. This allows the blood to collect or pool in the lower part of the body. The patient is then quickly returned to a flat position. This ’tilt’ causes less blood to return to the heart, so blood pressure drops since there is less blood is available to pump.

A positive or abnormal test result appears if a loss of consciousness occurs, which is usually accompanied by a slow heart rate and/or low blood pressure. If syncope, or a loss of consciousness, does not occur, the test is considered to be negative, or normal.

If the test has a negative or normal result, your physician may request that a medication be administered by IV to assist in inducing a syncopal episode. After the medication is administered, the patient is immediately returned to an upright position to be monitored for another 30-45 minutes, and the test is repeated.

If the test result is again negative, or your physician does not want medications administered to induce syncope, your child will be asked to follow up with their Children’s Heart Center physician to discuss further treatment options.