Clinical Case Database / Category: Case Based Discussion

Management of Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome

Publication details

Dean Chatterjee MB BS, Dr Jim Bolton MB BS, BSc(Hons), FRCPsych
Foundation Years Journal, volume 2, issue 6, p.278 (123Doc Education, London, July 2008)


A 48-year-old lady was brought to the accident and emergency department in an agitated and confused state. Friends confirmed that she had a regular high alcohol intake. A diagnosis of delirium tremens was made. She was admitted to a medical ward and was started on an alcohol detoxification regimen. Her physical symptoms of alcohol withdrawal settled, but it was apparent that she had difficulty walking, with a broad-based and unsteady gait. Although this improved, she also had ongoing memory difficulties. She could not fit nd her way around the ward and had difficulty recalling events since her admission. A CT head scan showed cerebral atrophy and an MRI scan showed no additional pathology.

Access the Clinical Cases Database

A subscription is required to read the full article. Please subscribe using one of the options below.

Foundation Years Clinical Cases Database£29.006 months
Add to cart
Foundation Years Clinical Cases Database£39.0012 months
Add to cart


Dean Chatterjee MB BS

St Helier Hospital
Wrythe Lane
Surrey SM5 1AA

Dr Jim Bolton MB BS, BSc(Hons), FRCPsych (Corresponding author)

Consultant Liaison Psychiatrist & Honorary Senior Lecturer
St Helier Hospital
Wrythe Lane
Surrey SM5 1AA


1. Cook CCH, Hallwood PM, Thomson AD. B vitamin deficiency and Neuropsychiatric syndromes in alcohol misuse. Alcohol & Alcoholism 1998 33:317–336.
2. Harper CG, Giles M, Finlay-Jones R. Clinical signs in the Wernicke-Korsakoff complex: A retrospective analysis of 131 cases diagnosed at necropsy . Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry 1986 49:341–345.
3. Lingford-Hughes AR, Welch S, Nutt DJ. Evidence-based guidelines for the pharmacological management of substance misuse, addiction and comorbidity: Recommendations from the British Association of Psychopharmacology. Journal of Psychopharmacology 2004 18:293–335.
4. Lishman WA. Vitamin deficiencies. In: Organic Psychiatry, Lishman AW. 1998: Blackwell, Oxford 1998.
5. Royal College of Physicians. Alcohol – can the NHS afford it? 2001.
6. Smith I, Hillman A. Management of alcohol Korsakoff syndrome. Advances in Psychiatric Treatment 1999 5:271–278.
7. Visser PJ, Krabbendam L, Verhey FRJ et al. Brain correlates of memory dysfunction in alcoholic Korsakoff’s syndrome. Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry 1999 67:774–778.


Conflict Of Interest

The Journal requires that authors disclose any potential conflict of interest that they may have. This is clearly stated in the Journal’s published “Guidelines for Authors”. The Journal follows the Guidelines against Conflict of Interest published in the Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journals (

Financial Statement

The authors of this article have not been paid. The Journal is financed by subscriptions and advertising. The Journal does not receive money from any other sources. The decision to accept or refuse this article for publication was free from financial considerations and was solely the responsibility of the Editorial Panel and Editor-in-Chief.

Patient Consent statement

All pictures and investigations shown in this article are shown with the patients’ consent. We require Authors to maintain patients’ anonymity and to obtain consent to report investigations and pictures involving human subjects when anonymity may be compromised. The Journal follows the Guidelines of the Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts ( The Journal requires in its Guidelines for Authors a statement from Authors that “the subject gave informed consent”.

Animal & Human Rights

When reporting experiments on human subjects, the Journal requires authors to indicate whether the procedures followed were in accordance with the ethical standards of the responsible committee on human experimentation (institutional and national) and with the HelsinkiDeclaration of 1975, as revised in 2008.

About the Clinical Cases Database

T​he Foundation Years Clinical Cases Database is​ a selection of 600 peer-reviewed clinical cases in the field of patient safety and clinical practice, specifically focused on the clinical information needs of junior doctors, based around the Foundation Year Curriculum programme (MMC). The cases have been chosen to align with the Foundation Year Curriculum.

The database is fully searchable, or can be browsed by medical specialty. Abstracts can be read free of charge, however a subscription is required in order to read the complete cases.