Intern Med J 2014 Sep;44(9):911-5
Northern Sydney Drug and Alcohol Service, Royal North Shore Hospital, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.
Wernicke encephalopathy is an acute, reversible neuropsychiatric emergency due to thiamine deficiency. Urgent and adequate thiamine replacement is necessary to avoid death or progression to Korsakoff syndrome with largely irreversible brain damage. Wernicke Korsakoff syndrome refers to a condition where features of Wernicke encephalopathy are mixed with those of Korsakoff syndrome. Although thiamine is the cornerstone of treatment of Wernicke encephalopathy, there are no universally accepted guidelines with regard to its optimal dose, mode of administration, frequency of administration or duration of treatment. Currently, different dose recommendations are being made. We present recommendations for the assessment and treatment of Wernicke encephalopathy based on literature review and our clinical experience.