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J Pediatr Neurosci. 2015 Jul-Sep;10(3):297-9. doi: 10.4103/1817-1745.165732.

Dry beriberi preceded Wernicke's encephalopathy: Thiamine deficiency after laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy.

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Division of Child Neurology, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock, Arkansas, USA.


In recent times, pediatric obesity has become widely prevalent. If first-line treatment with lifestyle modification fails, bariatric surgery may be indicated for severely obese patients. Many patients now travel abroad to get these surgeries done. Some of these patients receive inadequate postoperative care. We described a morbidly obese 17-year-old girl who had a laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy procedure for weight loss. Due to severe nausea, she stopped her multivitamin supplementation. Within a few weeks, she developed symptoms of dry beriberi was soon followed by classic symptoms of Wernicke's encephalopathy. The prompt diagnosis was made with confirmation from serum thiamine level and brain magnetic resonance imaging. Thiamine supplementation reversed ophthalmological symptoms promptly. However, the patient needed inpatient rehabilitation for neuropathy. This case describes that thiamine deficiency can occur after restrictive bariatric surgery, despite lower risk of malnutrition in the absence of intestinal bypass procedure. This report highlights that in the presence of risk factors: dietary noncompliance, inadequate follow-up, and severe nausea with and without vomiting can precipitate the development of Wernicke's encephalopathy, even after restrictive surgery. Physicians may increasingly encounter thiamine and other nutrient deficiencies in increasing numbers due to increasing prevalence of obesity disorders and availability of bariatric surgeries. This report also emphasized the importance of identifying vague sensory symptoms in thiamine deficiency.


Beriberi; Wernicke's encephalopathy; gastrectomy; obesity; thiamine

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