Wernicke Encephalopathy

Wernicke encephalopathy (WE) is a neuropsychiatric condition caused by thiamine (vitamin B1) deficiency and is frequently associated with heavy alcohol use, though it may also result from other conditions in which nutrition is compromised, including gastrointestinal disorders, cancer, and AIDS. German physician Carl Wernicke operationalized the diagnosis in the late 19th century, after observing two alcohol-dependent patients and one patient with chronic vomiting, all of whom died within 2 weeks of developing neurological signs of nystagmus (abnormal rhythmic movements of the eye), ophthalmoplegia (abnormalities of the eye muscles), unsteady gait, mental status changes, retinal hemorrhages, and other ophthalmic changes visible during a routine eye exam. Six years after Wernicke described his syndrome, Russian neuropsychiatrist Sergei Korsakoff described a series of patients with an amnestic syndrome ...

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