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Saunders-Sutton syndrome

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A not commonly used term for an acute form of alcohol withdrawal syndrome occurring in chronic alcoholic patients, characterized mainly by cortical and ß-adrenergic hyperexcitability. The symptoms include disorientation, irritability, insomnia, food aversion confabulation and hallucinations of terrifying objects or animals, tremor, seizures, sweating, rapid respiration and pulse rates, hyper- or hypotension, abnormal body temperature, severe muscle cramps, paresthesias, neurological disorders, vomiting, and gastritis.

The symptoms usually appear 3 to 5 days after alcohol withdrawal. In untreated cases, disorientation and restlessness may last for several weeks; with adequate treatment, most severe symptoms clear within 10 days. The mortality rate is about 15 per cent.


    W. Saunders, quoted by T. Sutton, in:
  • T. Sutton:
    Tracts on Delirium Tremens, on Peritonitis and on Some Other Internal Inflammatory Affections, and on the Gout.
    London, Thomas Underwood, 1813.

  • B. A. Morel:
    Traité des maladies mentales. Paris, 1860, p 400.
  • B. J. Cutshall:
    The Saunders-Sutton syndrome: An analysis of delirium tremens.
    Quarterly Journal of Studies on Alcohol, New Haven, 1965, 26: 423-428.

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