J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 76:509-513 doi:10.1136/jnnp.2004.043844
  • Paper

Internal jugular vein valve incompetence and intracranial venous anatomy in transient global amnesia

  1. S J Schreiber1,
  2. F Doepp1,
  3. R Klingebiel2,
  4. J M Valdueza1
  1. 1Department of Neurology, University Hospital Charité, Berlin, Germany
  2. 2Neuroradiology Section of the Department of Radiology, University Hospital Charité, Berlin, Germany
  1. Correspondence to:
 Stephan J Schreiber
 Department of Neurology, University Hospital Charité, Schumannstr. 20/21, 10117 Berlin, Germany;
  • Received 20 April 2004
  • Accepted 6 August 2004
  • Revised 6 July 2004


Background: Recently a causal relation between internal jugular vein valve incompetence (IJVVI) and transient global amnesia (TGA) has been suggested. IJVVI is postulated to provoke a transient mesiotemporal ischaemia by venous congestion. This mechanism requires a patent venous pathway from the affected IJV through the transverse sinus, confluens, straight sinus (SS), vein of Galen into the basal vein of Rosenthal and the internal cerebral veins.

Objective: To study IJVVI in TGA patients in relation to the intracranial venous anatomy.

Methods: IJVVI was defined if a repeated Valsalva manoeuvre (VM) led to a retrograde jugular flow detected by extracranial duplex ultrasound. Non-contrast venous MR angiography (MRA) was performed to analyse intracranial drainage patterns of the SS in relation to the side of the IJVVI. SS drainage was differentiated into three groups: predominantly right, left, and bilateral drainage. Ultrasound studies were performed in 25 TGA patients and 85 age matched controls. Twenty patients underwent venous MRA.

Results: Sixty eight per cent of patients and 33% of controls showed unilateral or bilateral IJVVI (p  =  0.0025). In 36% of patients a TGA preceding VM was reported. Drainage pattern of SS and side of IJVVI corresponded in five of eight patients (63%) with VM and four of 12 patients without VM (33%, p  =  0.0994).

Conclusion: Our study confirms the significantly higher prevalence of IJVVI in TGA patients. However, no specific IJVVI related intracranial venous drainage patterns could be found to further support the hypothesis of a direct causal relation between IJVVI and TGA.


  • Competing interests: this study was supported by a grant from the Schering Forschungsgesellschaft mbH, Berlin, Germany.

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