Korsakoff Syndrome

In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan.


While there is no consensus for the actual definition of Korsakoff syndrome, it is generally agreed to be a chronic neuropsychiatric syndrome due to thiamine (vitamin B1) deficiency. Damage to multiple areas on the brain leads to amnesia and confusion. While classically associated with chronic alcohol use, Korsakoff syndrome can be the result of other processes that ultimately lead to thiamine deficiency. Korsakoff syndrome is most often seen in the context of chronic alcohol abuse and thought to be on the spectrum with Wernicke encephalopathy. Wernicke encephalopathy is acute and often reversible while Korsakoff syndrome is chronic and may be irreversible. When Wernicke encephalopathy accompanies Korsakoff syndrome, it is referred to as Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, and due to the considerable overlap of the two diseases, this article will refer to the both of them when evaluating and treating a patient.

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