March 13, 2017 E-Pearl of the Week: Transient epileptic amnesa (TEA)

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March 13, 2017

Transient epileptic amnesa

Transient epileptic amnesia (TEA), a form of temporal lobe epilepsy, usually starts in the 50s with recurrent spells upon wakening (typically 30-60 minute durations). Spells consist of profound retrograde amnesia and partial anterograde amnesia with preserved insight1. Patients can exhibit repetitive questioning seen with transient global amnesia (TGA). One-third show temporal electroencephalographic abnormalities, with some having structural temporal pathology1. Unlike TGA, TEA causes accelerated long-term forgetting and remote memory impairment. Unresponsiveness, hallucinations, and automatisms are also seen. Anticonvulsant treatment is effective, but cognitive disturbance frequently persists.


  1. Zeman A, Butler C. Transient epileptic amnesia. Current opinion in Neurology 2010; 23: 610-616.

Submitted by Michael Kinney, BSc, MB, BCh, MRC, Adult Neurology Registrar - Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast, Northern Ireland. Dr. Kinney reports no disclosures.

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