Tilt Table Test

What is a Tilt Table Test?

A tilt table test helps find the cause of unexplained fainting spells known as syncope.

Syncope may occur often or rarely, depending on the cause.

Causes of syncope may include:

  • Vasovagal syndrome — a sudden drop in blood pressure — with or without a decrease in heart rate — caused by a defect of the nerves controlling the heart and blood vessels.
  • Arrhythmia or dysrhythmia — a heart rate that is too slow, too fast, or too irregular to maintain enough blood flow to the body.
  • Valve disease — a malfunction of one or more of the heart valves that may obstruct blood flow within the heart.

When your child has episodes of syncope, the doctor will assess his or her medical history and perform a physical exam.

If the exam doesn't reveal a potential cause for the syncope — and your child has no history of heart problems — then the doctor might schedule a tilt table test.

What Happens During a Tilt Table Test?

The tilt table test attempts to identify the cause for your child's onset of syncope by making changes in posture from lying to standing.

During a tilt table test at the Heart Institute at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, your child will lie flat on a special bed or table while connected to EKG and blood pressure monitors.

Then, we will:

  • Raise the bed or table to an almost standing position to simulate standing up from a lying position.
  • Measure your child's blood pressure and EKG and watch for changes when moving the position of the table.

What Do the Title Table Results Mean?

If the tittle table test: Then:
Causes an episode of syncope the probable cause of the syncope is vasovagal syndrome
Does not cause an episode of syncope, and/or the EKG and blood pressure recordings do not detect an abnormality, the doctor may schedule more diagnostic test or procedures

Once your child's doctor knows the cause of the syncope, he or she can then prescribe specific treatment.

To make an appointment or learn more about tilt table testing, contact the Heart Institute at UPMC Children's Hospital at 412-692-5540.