What is transient global amnesia (TGA)?

Updated: Jul 27, 2018
  • Author: Roy Sucholeiki, MD; Chief Editor: Helmi L Lutsep, MD  more...
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Transient global amnesia (TGA) has been a well-described phenomenon for more than 40 years. Clinically, it manifests with a paroxysmal, transient loss of memory function. Immediate recall ability is preserved, as is remote memory; however, patients experience striking loss of memory for recent events and an impaired ability to retain new information. In some cases, the degree of retrograde memory loss is mild.

Many patients are anxious or agitated and may repeatedly ask questions concerning transpiring events. Upon mental status examination, language function is preserved, which indicates a preservation of semantic and syntax memory. Attention is spared, visual-spatial skills are intact, and social skills are retained. Symptoms typically last less than 24 hours. As the syndrome resolves, the amnesia improves, but the patient may be left with a distinct lapse of recollection for events during the attack.

Generally, TGA is a solitary event, however, patients can experience more than one event with very similar symptoms and recovery.

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