Evolution of Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome in Self-Neglecting Alcoholics: Preliminary Results of Relation with Wernicke-Delirium and Diabetes Mellitus


Dr. Wijnia, Rijnmond Care Group, Nursing Home Slingedael, Center for Korsakoff and Psychogeriatry, Krabbendijkestraat 495, 3084 LP Rotterdam, the Netherlands. E-mail: j.wijnia@zorggroeprijnmond.nl.


We present a descriptive, retrospective study of initial symptoms, comorbidity, and alcohol withdrawal in 73 alcoholic patients with subsequent Korsakoff syndrome. In 25/73 (35%) of the patients the classic triad of Wernicke's encephalopathy with ocular symptoms, ataxia and confusion, was found. In at least 6/35 (17%) of the initial deliria (95% confidence interval: 10–25%) we observed no other underlying causes, thus excluding other somatic causes, medication, (recent) alcohol withdrawal, or intoxication. We suggest that these deliria may have been representing Wernicke's encephalopathy. A high frequency (15%) of diabetics may reflect a contributing factor of diabetes mellitus in the evolution of the Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome. (Am J Addict 2012;21:104–110)