Autonomic Testing Lab

in the Non-Invasive Testing Department

Autonomic Testing

A state-of-the-art autonomic testing lab is available at Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital. The lab offers some of the quickest, most comprehensive care available throughout New England.

Components of Autonomic Nervous System Testing:

Autonomic nervous system testing helps to determine the presence, severity and localization of autonomic dysfunction.

Includes: EKG, Sympathetic skin Response Test, Assessment of Heart Rate Variability to Deep Breathing, Evaluation of Hemodynamic Responses to Valsalva Maneuver, Tilt Table Test and Active Stand

Through these battery of tests, sudomotor, cardiovagal and adrenergic function are characterized. Non-invasive monitoring of beat-to-beat blood pressure and heart rate is performed throughout the test. Simultaneous EEG monitoring is an option if seizure vs. syncope is of concern.

Autonomic testing assists physicians with the diagnosis, evaluation and treatment of:

  • Syncope
  • Fatigue
  • Hypotension
  • Dizziness
  • Postural tachycardia
  • Abnormal sweating
  • Poor hemodynamic compensation
  • Movement disorders
  • Neuropathies
  • Bladder and bowel dysfunction
  • Assessment of dysautonomia in patients with diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease
  • Multiple-system atrophy
  • Diabetes
  • Monitoring disease progression of autonomic disorders and response to treatment
  • Differentiation of psychogenic from organic conditions
  • Evaluation of syncopal seizures


All autonomic studies will be interpreted and available within two weeks of the completed study.


Complete this form and check the autonomic test series, then fax the form back to us at 617-983-7162.

For questions, call 617-983-7580.

Frequently Asked Questions About Autonomic Testing

How long does the autonomic test take?

Autonomic testing lasts between 1 to 2 hours long.

What does autonomic testing consist of?

Autonomic testing consists of deep breathing exam, valsalva maneuver, cranial Doppler (blood flow), sweat test, tilt test and/or skin biopsy.

How long does it take to get results?

If you do not get the skin biopsy done, it will take 2 to 3 days to interpret your results. If you do get the skin biopsy, then it will take 3 to 4 weeks for results.

Is medication administered during the test?

We do not administer any medication during testing. However, for the skin biopsy we do give a Lidocaine injection to numb the sites we take the sample from. If patients are allergic to Lidocaine we do offer a cold spray to freeze the area before taking the sample.

Will I be able to drive after testing?

Right after testing you can resume all regular activities including driving but if you have concerns feel free to bring someone with you.

What preparation is there to be done before testing?

Avoid drinking alcohol, caffeinated beverages and smoking one day prior to testing. You can have a normal meal before testing. Do not use lotion or oils on legs or arms day of testing. Wear a loose fitting short-sleeve top and bring a change of shorts. Ask your physician about what medications you should stop taking before testing.

Is there a weight limit for the tilt table?

Yes, there is a weight limit. Patients over 350 lbs. are unable to be tested.

What is your cancellation policy?

Patients that arrive more than 15minutes late will need to reschedule their appointment. Cancellations should be made 24 hours or more before the scheduled test date by calling 617-983-7160.

How wide and deep is the skin biopsy?

The skin biopsy is 2 to 3mm wide and deep, it does not require stitching, just a regular bandage. You will not be able to submerge the biopsy sight in water for 1 week so please schedule testing accordingly.

Do I need to check with my insurance company about coverage?

Yes, we recommend checking with your insurance company prior to testing to ensure the procedure is covered and the facility is in network. For procedure codes and/or NPI numbers please call 617-983-7104.

If I am allergic to certain medications or dressings will I still be able to have testing done?

Lidocaine is the only medication we give topically for the skin biopsy. If a patient is allergic to Lidocaine we have an Epinephrine-free alternative or we use the cold spray. For patients with Latex allergies we offer Latex-free dressings like paper tape, etc.

Can I bring someone in the room with me for testing?

Yes, you can bring one person in with you for testing but we ask that that person not interrupt you during testing.


Offering comprehensive medical, surgical and psychiatric care as well as complete emergency, ambulatory and diagnostic services to residents of southwest Boston and the surrounding suburbs.