A recent study published in the American Journal of Roentgenology (AJR) found that the majority of patients presenting to the emergency department complaining of dizziness or fainting did not benefit from receiving a head CT. Researchers at the Kaiser Foundation Hospital in Honolulu have determined that only 7.1% of patients citing dizziness and 6.4% of patients suffering from syncope or near-syncope merited a head CT. “Head CT Scans in the Emergency Department for Syncope and Dizziness” was published in the January 2015 issue of AJR.

Use of head CT as a screening, rather than diagnostic, tool has increased as physicians face more pressure to differentiate between benign and life-threatening causes of dizziness and syncope. However, head CT is not recommended unless physical or historical indications of central nervous system dysfunction exist.

“Most patients with mild symptoms of dizziness or syncope do not require head CT,” said Myles M. Mitsunaga, the study’s principal investigator and resident at the John A. Burns School of Medicine, University of Hawaii. “If a careful history and physical examination do not find persistent neurologic signs, then a follow-up clinic visit the next day may be all that is necessary.”

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