Journal of Neurology

, Volume 252, Issue 12, pp 1482–1486

Increased incidence of jugular valve insufficiency in patients with transient global amnesia




While transient global amnesia (TGA) is a clinically well defined disorder, its etiology is poorly understood. Cerebral venous hypertension and subsequent damage to hippocampal and diencephalic structures are among the discussed hypothetical causes. Using a direct method for the study of retrograde flow during a Valsalva maneuver, we determined whether jugular valve insufficiency contributes to cerebral venous hypertension in patients with TGA.


Jugular valve closure was assessed by duplex sonography in 20 patients with TGA and 20 age and gender matched controls. The diagnosis of valvular insufficiency was made on the basis of recently established criteria.


Valvular insufficiency (either left or rightsided, or bilateral) was identified in 85% of patients with TGA,and in 45% of controls (p = 0.008). All patients with involuntary Valsalva episodes immediately prior to TGA developed valvular insufficiency (n = 8; p = 0.13 compared with patients who did not recall such an event). The mean duration of the insufficiency jet did not differ significantly between patients with TGA (3.26s) and controls (2.78s; p = 0.315). However, patients with TGA who experienced a trigger event were characterized by significantly longer insufficiency reflux times (3.84s) than those without (2.55s; p = 0.03).


TGA is associated with an increase in the prevalence of jugular insufficiency. Valvular insufficiency may lead to increased venous pressure transmission during a Valsalva maneuver and thus contribute to venous ischemia in TGA. The association of valvular insufficiency and longer reflux times with the occurrence of a trigger event further suggests that cerebral venous congestion is an important etiological factor in transient global amnesia.

Key words

jugular vein insufficiency transient global amnesia ultrasound 


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Copyright information

© Steinkopff-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dept. of NeurologyJohannes Gutenberg UniversityMainzGermany

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