Transient global amnesia


  • Paroxysmal, transient anterograde amnesia lasting several hours [1]
  • Most common in female 40-60yo[2]

Clinical Features

  • Anterograde amnesia
  • Unaware of their memory loss
  • Normal attention and social skills
  • Struggle with delayed recall
  • Periods of time typically less than 24 hrs, but typically lasts 4-6 hrs[3]
  • No localizing symptoms
    • If localizing symptoms, consider alternative diagnosis

Diagnostic Criteria

  • Attack must be witnessed.
  • Acute onset of anterograde amnesia
  • No alteration in consciousness.
  • No cognitive impairment other than amnesia.
  • No loss of personal identity.
  • No focal neurology or epileptic features .
  • No head trauma attributing amnesia to a concussion
  • Must resolve within 24 hours
  • No other causes of amnesia[4]

Differential Diagnosis


Depending on presentation, consider CVA workup

  1. Bedside glucose
  2. Bedside hemoglobin (polycythemia)
  3. CBC
  4. Chemistry
  5. Coags
  6. Troponin
  7. ECG (esp A-fib)
  8. Head CT
    • Primarily used to exclude intracranial bleeding, abscess, tumor, other stroke mimics
  9. Also consider:


  • Rule out CVA (clinically or with further workup)
  • Neurology referral
  • Once diagnosed, no specific treatment needed[5]


  • Discharge home with neurology follow up
  • Consider admission for equivocal cases


  • Full recovery with amnesia of event
  • Annual recurrence rate was 4.7%[6]

See Also


External Links


  1. D Owen et al. Classical diseases revisited: transient global amnesia. Postgrad Med J. 2007 Apr; 83(978): 236–239.
  2. Lin KH, et al. Migraine is associated with a higher risk of transient global amnesia: a nationwide cohort study. Eur J Neurol. 2014; 21(5):718-24.
  3. Zeman AZ, et al..Transient global amnesia. Br J Hosp Med. 1997; 58:257-60.
  4. Hodges J R, Warlow C P. Syndromes of transient amnesia: towards a classification. A study of 153 cases. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 199053834–843.
  5. Owen D, et al. Classical diseases revisited: transient global amnesia. Postgrad Med J. 2007; 83(978):236–239.
  6. Hinge HH, et al. The prognosis of transient global amnesia. Results of a multicenter study. Arch Neurol. 1986; 43(7):673-6.