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Brain. 2006 Jul;129(Pt 7):1640-58. Epub 2006 May 2.

What does transient global amnesia really mean? Review of the literature and thorough study of 142 cases.

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  • 1Inserm-EPHE-, Universit√© de Caen Basse-Normandie GIP Cyceron, CHU de Caen, France.


Since the first reports of transient global amnesia (TGA) were published in 1956, several neuropsychological and functional imaging studies have shed light on different aspects of this neurological syndrome. By establishing diagnostic criteria, Hodges and Warlow (1990b) have made it far easier to identify clinical TGA-related features. However, no comprehensive survey has been yet carried out in order to validate their criteria/findings or provide information about previously unknown features. In the present paper, (i) we review the literature published since Hodges and Warlow's study and seek to characterize the demographic and clinical features of TGA more accurately, (ii) we report 142 personal TGA cases, with supplementary information regarding both episodes and patients, such as precipitating events, associated symptoms and personality, and (iii) we suggest the existence of different groups of TGA patients, on the basis of a hierarchical cluster analysis. This revealed that in women, episodes are mainly associated with an emotional precipitating event, a history of anxiety and a pathological personality. In men, they occur more frequently after a physical precipitating event. In younger patients, a history of headaches may constitute an important risk factor. No link was found with vascular risk factors. The relevance of each of the above-mentioned variables is discussed in the light of our classification. An extensive description of cases from both the literature and our patient population allows us to refine the characterization of clinical TGA features.

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