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Alcohol Alcohol. 2006 Mar-Apr;41(2):159-67. Epub 2005 Dec 29.

The treatment of patients at risk of developing Wernicke's encephalopathy in the community.

Author information

1
Molecular Psychiatry Laboratory, Windeyer Institute of Medical Sciences, Department of Mental Health Sciences, Royal Free and University College, London Medical School, London UK.

Abstract

AIM:

To review the process of identifying alcohol-dependent patients at risk of developing Wernicke's encephalopathy (WE) in the community, and prophylactic treatment options.

METHODS:

Non-systematic literature review of the diagnosis of thiamine deficiency and of its treatment in the community. The role of supplementation of beer and bread with thiamine was evaluated.

RESULTS:

The diagnosis of thiamine deficiency is not always made, and treatment apparently may sometimes be inadequate.

CONCLUSIONS:

Alcohol-dependent patients in the community who are at risk of developing WE should be given thiamine 250 mg, intramuscularly, daily for 3-5 days as part of a community detoxification programme. Further work is essential to determine the optimum dose of thiamine required to prevent permanent brain damage (Korsakoff's Psychosis). Neurotoxicity, due to the metabolism of excessive alcohol in patients with chronic and severe alcohol dependence, must be considered as an important factor in determining the long-term outcome of treatment.

PMID:
16384870
DOI:
10.1093/alcalc/agh250
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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