Rinsho Shinkeigaku (Clinical Neurology)

Brief Clinical Note

Wernicke encephalopathy in a non-alcoholic patient with diabetic nephropathy under hemodialysis

Setsu Nakatani-Enomoto, M.D., Arata Moriya, M.D., Saeko Kikuchi, M.D., Hitoshi Mochizuki, M.D., Yoshihiro Sugiura, M.D. and Yoshikazu Ugawa, M.D.

Department of Neurology, School of Medicine, Fukushima Medical University

A 75-year-old man with diabetic nephropathy treated with hemodialysis visited to a medical office because of slight fever, and received intravenous glucose infusion without any vitamins. Thereafter, he noticed gait disturbance and began to tell inconsistent stories. He was admitted to our hospital due to aggravation of these symptoms. On admission, he was disoriented and not able to sit by himself because of severe truncal ataxia without weakness. He had also gaze direction nystagmus. Based on clinical features, we considered him as having Wernicke's encephalopathy (WE) and treated him with 100 mg thiamine per day. The thiamine supply diminished these symptoms soon. Plasma thiamine level prior to the administration was 7 ng/ml, which confirmed the diagnosis. MRI did not disclose any abnormalities frequently seen in WE.WE is a life-threatening disease, and 'early detection, early cure' is important for recovering without sequelae. The thiamine deficiency is often seen in dialysis patients because of dietary restrictions as well as its loss during dialysis. This case gives us the caution; when hemodialysis patients present acute/subacute gait disturbance and/or abnormal mental state, we should consider WE. Furthermore, high-risk patients, such as elderly patients under hemodialysis may need some supplement including thiamine even at preclinical stage.
Full Text of this Article in Japanese PDF (261K)

(CLINICA NEUROL, 50: 409|411, 2010)
key words: Wernicke's encephalopathy, hemodialysis

(Received: 28-Sep-09)