Emergency medicine

Syncope: simple or sinister?

Gordian Fulde, Sascha Fulde



Syncope is a transient loss of consciousness that can have a benign or serious cause. It can also be the presenting feature of a surgical emergency, as described here.

Article Extract

Syncope is a transient loss of consciousness with spontaneous return to baseline neurological function, requiring no resuscitation efforts. It is a common problem, causing around 3% of presentations to the emergency department.

Syncope is a symptom, not a diagnosis. It can present a challenge to clinicians because of the wide range of possible causes, ranging from the benign to the serious. In around 50% of patients presenting with syncope, the cause cannot be found, even when patients are admitted to hospital and extensively investigated.