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Pediatric Syncope: Is Detailed Medical History the Key Point for Differential Diagnosis?

Ikiz, Mehmet Alper MD*; Çetin, Ibrahim Ilker MD; Ekici, Filiz MD; Güven, Alev MD; Değerliyurt, Aydan MD; Köse, Gülşen MD

doi: 10.1097/PEC.0000000000000123
Original Articles

Syncope is a transient loss of consciousness as a result of global cerebral hypoperfusion. It is generally benign but may be a sign of pathology. The purpose of this study was to analyze the frequency of syncope due to cardiac, neurocardiogenic, neurologic, situational, psychiatric, and other causes and make a differential diagnosis of syncope types according to detailed medical history and further investigations. We examined prospectively 268 children presented to pediatric polyclinics as well as cardiology and neurology departments (age range, 1–18 years) with a primary complaint of syncope for the study. Cardiac syncope was diagnosed in 12 patients, neurocardiogenic syncope in 232, neurologic syncope in 9, psychiatric syncope in 9, situational in 4, and benign paroxysmal positional vertigo in 2. The neurologic syncope group consists of patients diagnosed with epilepsy after evaluation. Eight patients in the cardiac syncope group were found to have diseases such as long QT syndrome, and the remaining patients had hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, atrioventricular nodal reentry tachycardia, ventricular tachycardia, and a second-degree heart block that can cause sudden death. In conclusion, syncope is a common problem in childhood that requires hospitalization. Because it may be the first finding of an underlying malignant cardiac or neurologic disease, clinicians must be very careful during medical evaluation. An electrocardiogram and a medical history including the details of the event, chronic diseases, and familial diseases are among the most important steps for the right diagnosis and prognosis. Instead of a routine procedure, further diagnostic workup should be directed according to medical history for high yield. Convulsive movements may be defined in all types of syncope related with cerebral hypoxia, and this may lead to a misdiagnosis of seizure by the clinician.

From the *Departments of Pediatrics; †Pediatric Cardiology; and ‡Pediatric Neurology, Ankara Children’s Hematology Oncology Education and Research Hospital, Ankara, Turkey.

Disclosure: The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Reprints: Mehmet Alper Ikiz, MD, Department of Pediatrics, Ankara Children’s Hematology Oncology Training and Research Hospital, Ziraat Mah. İrfan Baştuğ Cad. Kurtdereli Sk. No:10 Dışkapı, Ankara, Turkey (e-mail:

© 2014 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.