September 16, 2020

Take Home Points

  • Wernicke encephalopathy is characterized by ataxia, altered mental status and ophthalmoplegia but patients are unlikely to have all these components
  • Suspect Wernicke encephalopathy in any patient that is at risk of malnutrition or malabsorption and has any one of the classic symptoms
  • Prophylactic administration of thiamine 100 mg IV/IM to at risk patients can prevent development of the disease
  • Once Wernicke encephalopathy has developed, it must be treated with high-dose, IV thiamine