May 8, 2014: Transient Global Amnesia

Interested in submitting an E-Pearl?
Brought to you by the Residents & Fellows Section of Neurology®.

May 8, 2014

Transient global amnesia (TGA) is defined by acute onset anterograde and retrograde amnesia resolving within 24 hours. Patients are typically in their sixth decade. Repetitive questioning and excessive emotionality are often seen. Common precipitating factors are physical and psychological stress. Most cases are idiopathic and resolve without treatment; however, etiologies such as TIA, seizure, and migraine should be considered. Hippocampal lesions can be detected by DWI in up to 88% of cases with optimal sensitivity 48 hours after onset. After excluding more serious diagnoses, patients should be assured that TGA is benign and has a recurrence rate of no more than 10%.


1. Bartsch T, Deucshl G. Transient global amnesia: functional anatomy and clinical implications. Lancet Neurol 2010; 9: 205-214.

2. Kim J, Kwon Y, Yang Y, et al. Clinical experience of modified diffusion-weighted imaging protocol for lesion detection in transient global amnesia: An 8-Year large-scale clinical study. J Neuroimaging 2013; doi: 10.1111/jon.12021.

Submitted by Paul M. Gadient, MD, Resident physician, University of Kentucky Department of Neurology, Lexington, KY.

Dr. Gadient reports no disclosures.

For more clinical pearls and other articles of interest to neurology trainees, visit Neurology. Listen to this week's Neurology Podcast.


Forgot password?