- A dictionary of medical eponyms

Wernicke's disease

Alternative eponyms

  • Gayet's disease
  • Gayet-Wernicke encephalopathy
  • Gayet-Wernicke haemorrhagic encephalitis
  • Gayet-Wernicke syndrome
  • Wernicke's encephalopathic syndrome
  • Wernicke's encephalopathy
  • Wernicke's syndrome
  • Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome

Related people

An encephalopathy syndrome characterized by mental and ocular disorders, and ataxia.

Description

An encephalopathy syndrome characterized by mental and ocular disorders, and ataxia. Mental disturbances include listlessness, disorientation, confusion, hallucinations, Korsakoff psychosis, and other behavioural symptoms. Ocular disorders are oculomotor paralysis, chiefly of the external recti, conjugate paralysis, and horizontal and vertigal nystagmus. The ataxia affects stance and gait. Other common features are nutritional deficiency, skin changes, redness of the tongue, cheilosis, liver diseases, cardiovascular complications and hypothermia. The symptoms usually have a sudden onset and occur singly or in various combinations. The term Gayet disease applies to the type in which lesions are more extensive than those in the Wernicke type. The disturbance is primarily due to thiamine deficiency secondary to alcoholism and/or starvation. It usually occurs in alcoholic patients, but in the Orient it has been observed in infants and adults with beriberi. Korsakoff's psychosis is the psychiatric manifestation of Wernicke's disease.

Bibliography

  • C. J. A. Gayet:
    Affection encéphalique (encéphalite diffuse probable). Localisée aux étages superieurs des pédoncles cérébraux et aux couches optiques, ainsi qu’ou plancher due quatrième ventricule et aux parois laterales du troisième. Observation recueillie.
    Archives de physiologie normale et pathologique, Paris, 1875, 2,2: 341-351.
  • K. Wernicke:
    Die acute, hämorrhagische Polioencephalitis superior.
    In his: Lehrbuch der Gehirnkrankheiten; Kassel, Fischer, and Berlin, 1881, 22: 229-242.

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