Rapid Review: Wernicke Encephalopathy

August 10, 2017

Wernicke Encephalopathy

  • Patient will be a chronic alcoholic
  • Complaining of ataxia and confusion
  • PE will show nystagmus
  • Most commonly caused by thiamine (B1) deficiency
  • Treatment is aggressive thiamine repletion
  • Comments: replace thiamine BEFORE glucose

Sample question:

A 53-year-old woman with chronic alcohol use presents with confusion and blurred vision. Her vital signs are normal. Physical examination reveals a wide-based gait, inability to abduct her right eye fully, nystagmus and difficulty with memory. Her alcohol level is 0 mg/dl. Which of the following is most likely to diagnose this patient’s disease?

By Yehuda Wolf, MPA, PA-C

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