A head CT scan means radiation to your brain, so if you’re dizzy in the emergency room, when and when not should you have this?
Kaiser Foundation Hospital researchers report that less than 7.1 percent of patients in the ER complaining of dizziness benefited from a head CT. About only 6.4 percent of patients with faintness benefited.
The CT scan is fast and easy, but apparently much overused.
Doctors want to make sure they cover all their bases when dealing with dizziness and fainting in patients—which could have both benign and serious causes.
Loss of consciousness can result from causes other than fainting, and under these circumstances, a CT scan is recommended by the researchers. Unless there’s evidence of impairment of the central nervous system, the CT scan should be avoided in cases of simple fainting or feeling faint (called “syncope”).
However, says the report. CT scans are common for patients in the ER complaining of fainting or syncope.
"Most patients with mild symptoms of dizziness or syncope do not require a head CT," points out Myles M. Mitsunaga, one of the researchers. He adds that if there are no “neurologic signs” present, along with a physical examination and careful history having been taken of the patient, then only a next-day follow-up is likely all that’s necessary.