A Case Report on Wernicke–Korsakoff Syndrome


  • Dr. Vasantrao Pawar Medical College Hospital and Research Center, Hospital and Research centre, Nashik, Maharashtra, 422003, India
  • Dr. Vasantrao Pawar Medical College Hospital and Research Center, Hospital and Research Centre, Nashik, Maharashtra, 422003, India


Background: Alcohol use is one of the most serious problems in public health and the Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome is one of the gravest consequences of alcoholism. Post-mortem studies suggest that Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome occurs in 12.5% of dependent drinkers and in 2% of the general population. Korsakoff Syndrome is an amnestic disorder generally followed by untreated Wernicke's Encephalopathy. Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome is most commonly a post-mortem diagnosis. Aim and Objective: To report a case of Korsakoff Syndrome since the clinical presentation is often undiagnosed or misdiagnosed. Case description: 50 year old male, drinking heavily since 25 years presented with complaints of forgetfulness, talking irrelevantly since last 18 months. Patient developed symptoms of confusion, ataxia, and altered behaviour 2 years back, for which he was treated as a case of encephalitis and not treated with thiamine. He later progressed to show symptoms of amnesia. On examination, patient showed recent memory deficit with anterograde and variable retrograde amnesia with confabulations. Neurological examination revealed absent deep tendon reflexes and signs of peripheral neuropathy. MRI brain showed global cortical atrophy. The sequence of events in this case study demonstrates the possible effects of long term alcohol use, namely Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome. Highlights of the medical model of Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome will be subsequently presented. Lastly, suggestions for treatment and prevention of further damage will be discussed.


Chronic Alcoholism, Wernicke's Encephalopathy, Amnestic Syndrome, Thiamine Deficiency.

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