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Wernicke's Encephalopathy: 'plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose'

Thomson, A.D.; Cook, C.C.H.; Guerrini, I.; Sheedy, D.; Harper, C.; Marshall, E.J.

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A.D. Thomson

I. Guerrini

D. Sheedy

C. Harper

E.J. Marshall


Aims: To develop clinical guidelines to identify individuals who misuse alcohol and are at risk of developing Wernicke's Encephalopathy (WE). Method: Non-systematic literature review of studies which includes a careful clinical record of the development of signs and symptoms of thiamine deficiency and in which the diagnosis of WE has been confirmed at autopsy. Results: The review of the clinical findings in cases of WE, diagnosed at autopsy, shows a consistent pattern of signs and symptoms. The pattern appears to be similar regardless of whether the thiamine deficiency is related to nutritional problems alone or associated with alcohol misuse. Conclusions: The assessment of the degree of thiamine deficiency and the diagnosis of WE remain a clinical evaluation, and guidelines are suggested to help the clinician. Since neurotoxicity due to the metabolism of excessive alcohol in patients with chronic and severe alcohol dependence may be an important factor in determining long-term outcome of treatment, this must form part of the overall evaluation.


Thomson, A., Cook, C., Guerrini, I., Sheedy, D., Harper, C., & Marshall, E. (2008). Wernicke's Encephalopathy: 'plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose'. Alcohol and Alcoholism, 43(2), 180-186.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Mar 1, 2008
Deposit Date May 16, 2011
Publicly Available Date Aug 24, 2011
Journal Alcohol and Alcoholism
Print ISSN 0735-0414
Electronic ISSN 1464-3502
Publisher Oxford University Press
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 43
Issue 2
Pages 180-186


Accepted Journal Article (539 Kb)

Copyright Statement
This is a pre-copy-editing author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in Alcohol & alcoholism following peer review. The definitive publisher-authenticated version Thomson, A. D. and Cook, C. C. H. and Guerrini, I. and Sheedy, D. and Harper, C. and Marshall, E. J. (2008) 'Wernicke's encephalopathy : 'plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose'.', Alcohol & alcoholism., 43 (2). pp. 180-186 is available online at:

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