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Isr J Med Sci. 1994 Mar;30(3):225-8.

Wernicke's encephalopathy in hyperemesis gravidarum: association with abnormal liver function.

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  • 1Department of Medicine E, Chaim Sheba Medical Center, Tel-Hashomer, Israel.


A 27-year-old woman developed Wernicke's encephalopathy in the 18th week of her pregnancy after 11 weeks of vomiting accompanied by weight loss of 21 kg and moderately abnormal liver function tests. The patient recovered after thiamine therapy but the fetus was lost. Review of the literature published during the last 25 years revealed an additional 14 cases of Wernicke's encephalopathy complicating hyperemesis gravidarum. All patients vomited for at least 4 weeks. Six of the 15 patients (40%) had aspartate aminotransferase values > 100 U/l, much higher than the rate reported in previous series of patients with hyperemesis gravidarum (7%). This suggests the need for parenteral thiamine supplementation in patients with severe hyperemesis gravidarum lasting more than 3 weeks, especially those with abnormal liver function, and supports the hypothesis that the hepatic abnormality plays a pathogenetic role in the development of Wernicke's encephalopathy in hyperemesis gravidarum.

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