Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome

Alternative Names

Korsakoff psychosis; Alcoholic encephalopathy; Encephalopathy – alcoholic; Wernicke’s disease

Definition of Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome

Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome is a brain disorder due to thiamine deficiency.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Wernicke’s encephalopathy and Korsakoff syndrome are different conditions that are both due to brain damage caused by a lack of vitamin B1 (thiamine).

Symptoms

Symptoms of Wernicke’s encephalopathy:

Signs and tests

Examination of the nervous/muscular system may show damage to many nerve systems:

Treatment

The goals of treatment are to control symptoms as much as possible and to prevent the disorder from getting worse. Some people may need to stay in the hospital early in the condition to help control symptoms.

Expectations (prognosis)

Without treatment, Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome gets steadily worse and can be life threatening. With treatment, you can control symptoms (such as and ), and slow or stop the disorder from getting worse.

Review

David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; and Luc Jasmin, MD, PhD, Department of Neurosurgery at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, and Department of Anatomy at UCSF, San Francisco, CA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 2/6/2010

Central nervous system

ADAM Medical Encyclopedia

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