Objective: To report diffusion-weighted imaging (DWI) findings and postulate the pathogenic mechanism of Wernicke's encephalopathy (WE).
Patient: A 47-year-old-woman presented with altered consciousness, ophthalmoplegia, and ataxia. DWI revealed the abnormal signal changes in periaqueductal gray matter, mamillary bodies and bilateral medial thalami. Apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) map revealed the high signal intensity lesions in bilateral medial thalami, suggestive of vasogenic edema. The abnormal signal intensity lesions disappeared on follow-up imaging with clinical improvement.
Conclusions: Vasogenic edema plays an important role in the pathogenesis of WE and can be reversed by proper management. DWI findings in the early stage of WE may provide useful information about the prognosis.