An increased frequency of patent foramen ovale in patients with transient global amnesia. Analysis of 53 consecutive patients

Arch Neurol. 1996 Jun;53(6):504-8. doi: 10.1001/archneur.1996.00550060046014.


Objective: Alerted by the number of patients with transient global amnesia (TGA) in whom Valsalvalike activities immediately preceded the onset of TGA, we have investigated the frequency of patent foramen ovale (PFO) as the prerequisite for paradoxical embolism.

Design: Case series with comparison to a control group.

Setting: Hospitalized and ambulatory patients at the neurological departments of the Alfried Krupp Hospital, Essen, Germany, and the Rheinisch-Westfälische-Technische Hochschule, Aachen, Germany.

Patients: Fifty-three consecutive patients with TGA were evaluated by the 2 centers between 1988 and 1995.

Results: Using contrast transcranial Doppler sonography we have observed a PFO in 55% of the patients with TGA, compared with 27% of a control group of 100 patients. This difference was statistically significant (P < .01). Twenty-five patients with TGA (47%), 15 of them with a proven PFO, reported a precipitating activity, such as the lifting of heavy weights, immediately before the TGA occurred.

Conclusions: In addition to other pathological mechanisms, paradoxical embolism with temporobasal ischemia could possibly play a role in the clinical syndrome of TGA. This hypothesis could explain the frequent observation of preceding Valsalvalike activities in patients with TGA.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Amnesia / diagnostic imaging
  • Amnesia / etiology*
  • Arousal / physiology
  • Echocardiography
  • Female
  • Heart Septal Defects, Atrial / complications*
  • Heart Septal Defects, Atrial / diagnostic imaging
  • Humans
  • Intracranial Embolism and Thrombosis / diagnostic imaging
  • Intracranial Embolism and Thrombosis / etiology
  • Ischemic Attack, Transient / diagnostic imaging
  • Ischemic Attack, Transient / etiology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Physical Exertion / physiology
  • Risk Factors
  • Ultrasonography, Doppler, Transcranial
  • Valsalva Maneuver / physiology