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Conn Med. 2012 Nov-Dec;76(10):603-5.

Acute Wernicke encephalopathy and sensorineural hearing loss complicating bariatric surgery.

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  • 1Department of Hospital Medicine, Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center, Hartford CT, USA.


Health-care professionals must be aware of the mandatory vitamin supplementation in patients status post bariatric surgery. A recent increase in the number of gastric bypass surgeries in US has been associated with a proportional increase in Wernicke encephalopathy reports. Subtle or atypical neurologic features are not uncommon. Our report is of a female patient with acute Wernicke encephalopathy accompanied by sensorineural hearing loss six weeks after bariatric surgery. The patient had only a partial recovery of her neurologic symptoms eightweeks after vigorous therapy for this condition. Symptomatic thiamine (vitamin B1) and vitamin B12 deficiencies are particularly concerning effects of bariatric procedures, as neurologic and cognitive deficits may be long lasting or even permanent despite aggressive replacement therapy.

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