Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome

Postgrad Med J. 1997 Jan;73(855):27-31. doi: 10.1136/pgmj.73.855.27.


Alcohol abuse is one of the most serious problems in public health and the Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome is one of the gravest consequences of alcoholism. The pathology is often undiagnosed in its less evident presentations, therefore an accurate diagnostic approach is a critical step in treatment planning. Treatment is based on restoration of thiamine, although this is insufficient to prevent the psychological decline of a great number of patients. The cognitive impact of the pathology is derived from the interaction of alcoholic neurotoxicity, thiamine deficiency and personal susceptibility. In this article, the literature concerning Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome is reviewed.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alcohol Amnestic Disorder / etiology
  • Alcohol Amnestic Disorder / history
  • Alcohol Amnestic Disorder / pathology
  • Alcohol Amnestic Disorder / physiopathology*
  • Alcohol Amnestic Disorder / therapy
  • Alcoholism / complications
  • History, 19th Century
  • Humans
  • Metabolic Diseases / etiology
  • Metabolic Diseases / history
  • Metabolic Diseases / pathology
  • Metabolic Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Metabolic Diseases / therapy
  • Prognosis
  • Syndrome
  • Thiamine / therapeutic use
  • Thiamine Deficiency / complications
  • Wernicke Encephalopathy / etiology
  • Wernicke Encephalopathy / history
  • Wernicke Encephalopathy / pathology
  • Wernicke Encephalopathy / physiopathology*
  • Wernicke Encephalopathy / therapy


  • Thiamine