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Document Details :
Title: Een niet-alledaagse oorzaak van delirium
Author(s): DELAERE J, NAESENS M, GHESQUIERE B, COBBAERT K
Journal: Tijdschrift voor Geneeskunde
Volume: 70 Issue: 20 Date: 2014
An unusual cause of delirium
A 69-year-old patient developed acute confusion with gait disturbances during her hospitalization. The clinical, biochemical and ultrasound examination of the abdomen did not reveal a clear-cut explanation. Given the history of a pronounced alcohol use, high doses of vitamin B1 were initiated, upon which the situation gradually improved, indicating Wernicke’s encephalopathy.
Wernicke’s encephalopathy is an acute encephalopathy characterized by confusion, gait ataxia and oculomotor dysfunction. It is caused by a thiamine deficiency (vitamin B1). Mainly alcoholics are at an increased risk, but also other causes of malnutrition can lead to this syndrome. Given the non-specific symptoms and the lack of a conclusive diagnostic test, it is very important to be aware of this syndrome. When Wernicke’s encephalopathy is suspected, high doses of vitamin B1 should be administered to prevent irreversible cerebral damage.