background: The objective of this study was to describe the cost of prior diagnostic evaluation in patients referred for evaluation of syncope whose history was typical of vasodepressor syncope. methods and results: Thirty consecutive patients who were referred for evaluation of syncope of undetermined origin and whose history was highly suggestive of vasodepressor syncope participated in this study. These 30 patients represented 19% of 158 patients referred for evaluation of syncope during the period of enrollment. All patients had positive results of an upright-tilt test, confirming the diagnosis of vasodepressor syncope. At the time of evaluation, the type and results of all diagnostic tests that had been performed prior to referral were recorded for each patient. The cost of diagnostic testing was then determined based on the 1991 cost of these tests at the University of Michigan Medical Center. A mean of 4 ± 2 major diagnostic tests were performed before referral to the University of Michigan Medical Center. The mean and median costs of diagnostic testing per patient prior to referral were $3,763 ± 3,820 and $2,678 (range: 0 to $16,606) respectively. Six patients underwent no major diagnostic tests prior to referral and, therefore, the cost of major diagnostic testing was zero in these patients. In the remaining patients, the mean and median costs of diagnostic testing per patient were $4,704 ± 3,713 and $3,777 (range: $1,025 to $16,606) respectively. conclusions: The results of this study demonstrate that a diagnosis of vasodepressor syncope can be established clinically in approximately 20% of patients referred to a university hospital for evaluation of syncope of undetermined origin. Failure to recognize the clinical features of vasodepressor syncope in these patients resulted in up to $16,000 of unnecessary diagnostic testing. A greater awareness of the clinical features of vasodepressor syncope may, therefore, result in significant economic savings.
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