Background: Infants who have experienced an apparent life-threatening event typically undergo an extensive evaluation to rule out serious underlying conditions.
Objectives: To evaluate the yield of different tests performed after an apparent life-threatening event and to identify high risk groups in which more extensive diagnostic tests are required.
Methods: A retrospective study was conducted in a children's hospital over a 4 year period during which the charts of infants who were admitted with an apparent life-threatening event were reviewed. The yield for each diagnostic test was established according to the ratio of positive results contributing to the diagnosis of the apparent life-threatening event.
Results: The study included 69 infants between the ages of 1 week and 1 year. There were abnormal findings in 36% of the cases. Gastroesophageal reflux was the most common diagnosis (60%). In the remaining patients the diagnosis was either seizures (12%) or respiratory tract infections (28%). Tests used for the diagnosis of cardiac, metabolic and non-respiratory infections had no yield. A positive correlation was found between abnormal test results and abnormal physical examination (P = 0.001), an abnormal perinatal history (P = 0.017), and age older than 2 months (P = 0.002).
Conclusions: The yield of most of the tests performed after an apparent life-threatening event is low, especially in infants with a normal perinatal history and physical examination.