differential diagnosis of TGA and TIA

Last reviewed 01/2018

The characteristics of transient global amnesia and transient ischaemic attacks are summarised:

  • age of the patient:
    • TIA is more likely at all ages but more so in the elderly

  • neurological signs:
    • TGA is an isolated memory disorder and there are no other neurological signs
    • a TIA is associated with other neurological signs such as motor or sensory dysfunction

  • degree of disorientation:
    • in TGA the patient cannot acquire new memories but otherwise is able to function normally; personal identity is retained
    • in TGA questions are asked repeatedly
    • a TIA may be accompanied by more global disorientation and confusion

  • time to recover:
    • in TGA usually 1-2 hours (up to 12 hours)
    • in TIA from a few minutes to 24 hours