Tilt Table Test
What is the Tilt-table Test?
If you have been experiencing fainting or near fainting spells, also called syncope, this test can aide your physician in trying to determine the cause of these events. Sometimes a change in position, for example going from a sitting to a standing position, causes individuals to become faint or actually to pass out. The tilt-table is a test designed to see how your heart and circulatory systems will respond to a change in position. The results will aid your physician in determining a possible cause for your symptoms.
What does the Tilt-table Test show?
This test is designed to bring on syncope (fainting spell) under a controlled environment. This can happen when an individual is raised from the lying position to the standing position. When someone is raised from the lying position to the upright position, blood will begin to pool in the your legs. This causes less blood to return to your heart, which causes less blood to be pumped from your heart, which causes your blood pressure to drop.
In a normal situation, nerves that are responsible for controlling heart rate and blood pressure would maintain blood pressure by increasing heart rate and tightening the blood vessels.
In an abnormal situation, the nerves that control blood pressure and heart rate do not respond properly causing a decrease in blood pressure and cause someone to faint. Once the person is returned to the lying position and normal blood flow begins, he or she will regain consciousness.
What happens during the test?
When you arrive at the hospital and the room in which the test will take place, you will be given a hospital gown to wear. This will allow the individuals assisting the doctor the opportunity to place electrodes on your chest so they can monitor your heart rate and rhythm throughout the entire test time. You will also have an IV line started and a blood pressure cuff placed on either arm.
During the test you will be instructed to lay down on a special table called a tilt-table. After a preliminary heart rate and blood pressure are recorded, the doctor will raise the table to the almost standing position. A special strap will be placed around your waist to help hold you in this position as well as a foot rest. You will remain in this position from 20 to 30 minutes. If the test is negative (meaning you do not faint), the doctor may give you medicine in your IV line or place a nitroglycerine tablet under your tongue. The medications are given to determine if they can cause you to faint. If the medication does not cause you to faint, the table will be lowered to the laying flat position. The test is now over. If at any time during the test you do faint (a positive test), the table will immediately be lowered to the flat position and the appropriate measures taken to help you regain consciousness.
Are there any pre-test instructions? Yes there are. Please do not eat 4 – 6 hours prior to your scheduled test time. Make arrangements for someone to drive you to and from the hospital. Check with YOUR DOCTOR to determine if there are any medications that he or she does not want you to take. Bring a list of ALL your medications.