An international perspective on the prevalence of the Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome
- 317 Downloads
In the Western world previous studies have shown that the majority of cases of the Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome (WKS), which is caused by thiamine deficiency, occur in alcoholics. However, in France, a country with one of the highest per capita consumptions of alcohol, the prevalence of the WKS was found to be only 0.4% in a small retrospective autopsy study. This figure is compared with data sent to the authors by a number of neuropathologists from the U.S.A., Europe, Scandinavia and Australia. There was no obvious correlation between the prevalence rates of the WKS, which were highest in Australia (2.8% - previously published), and per capita consumption of alcohol. Other issues such as diet, National programs for supplementation of foods with thiamine, and drinking habits are considered. The pathological diagnosis of the WKS can often be made on macroscopic examination of the brain after fixation in formalin. The mammillary bodies are smaller than normal in most cases of chronic WKS. However in this study it was found that the most common causes of small mammillary bodies were Alzheimer's disease and atrophy due to transneuronal degeneration secondary to lesions in the hippocampus.
Key wordsThiamine deficiency Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome prevalence international perspective pathology
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.
- Axford, D. W. E. and Williams, D. A. (1981). Flour enrichment around the world.British Flour Milling and Baking Research Association 4:156–163.Google Scholar
- Dreneck, E. J., Joven, C. B. and Swendseid, M. E. (1966). Occurrence of acute Wernicke's encepathalopathy during prolonged starvation for the treatment of obesity.N. Eng J. Med. 274:937–939.Google Scholar
- Harper, C. G. and Kril, J. J. (1990). The changing face of the Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome.Aust. Drug Alcohol Rev. 9:299–301.Google Scholar
- Haut comité de la Santé publique. (1992). Les indicateurs d'alcoolisation 1992. La consommation, la mortalité. La Documentation française, Paris.Google Scholar
- Thomson, A. D., Jeyasingham, M. D., Pratt, O. E. and Shaw, G. K. (1987). Nutrition and alcoholic encephalopathies.Acta Med. Scand. Suppl 717:55–65.Google Scholar
- Verhoek, J. J. M. (1992).World Drink Trends., Produktschap voor Gedistilleerde Dranken in association with NTC Publications Ltd,Google Scholar
- Victor, M., Adams, R. D. and Collins, G. H. (1989).The Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome, 2nd ed., Davis, Philadelphia.Google Scholar
- Yellowlees, P. M. (1986). Thiamin deficiency and prevention of the Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome. A major public health problem.Med. J. Aust. 745:216–219.Google Scholar