Which conditions should be considered in the differential diagnosis of Wernicke encephalopathy (WE)?

Updated: Nov 20, 2018
  • Author: Philip N Salen, MD; Chief Editor: Andrew K Chang, MD, MS  more...
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Because WE is reversible, the diagnosis of subclinical cases permits treatment and, probably, improvement of the patient's nutritional, metabolic, and neurological status. [13]

Consider acute WE in all alcoholic patients with any neurologic symptoms, especially in those with evidence of caloric or protein malnutrition or of peripheral neuropathy. Conditions to include in the differential diagnosis of WE include the following:

  • Psychosis

  • Normal pressure hydrocephalus

  • Cerebrovascular accident

  • Chronic hypoxia

  • Closed-head injury

  • Hepatic encephalopathy

  • Postictal state

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