Article Text

Download PDFPDF
The diagnosis and management of transient global amnesia in the emergency department
  1. Magnus Harrison,
  2. Mark Williams
  1. University Hospital of North Staffordshire, Stoke-on-Trent, UK
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr M Williams
 University Hospital of North Staffordshire NHS Trust, North Staffordshire Royal Infirmary, Princes Road, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire ST4 7LN, UK;m.williams{at}


Transient Global Amnesia (TGA) is a benign and temporary loss of anterograde memory with the preservation of remote memories and immediate recall. TGA was first described in 1956 and since then epilepsy, transient ischaemic attacks (TIA), migraine and now intracranial venous stasis have been implicated in its aetiology. Precipitants of TGA include physical exertion and valsalva-like manoeuvres. In order to diagnose TGA the criteria created by Hodge and Warlow in 1990 can be used. This requires the episode of memory loss to be witnessed and involve anterograde amnesia. The patient must not have any evidence of neurological signs or deficits, features of epilepsy, active epilepsy or recent head injury. Finally the episode must have resolved within 24 h. In this case study the patient’s symptoms are mistakenly attributed to a TIA. There is no increased risk of TIA or CVA in patients who have had TGA and there are no increased levels of mortality amongst these patients. In this article we aim to help doctors working in the emergency department to diagnose and manage TGA.

  • CVA, cerebrovascular accident
  • TGA, transient global amnesia
  • TIA, transient ischaemic attack

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


  • Competing interests: None declared.

  • Informed consent was obtained for publication of the person’s details in this report.