Thursday, May 13, 2021

History of Wernicke - Korsakoff syndrome

In 1881, Carl Wernicke first described an illness that consisted of paralysis of eye movements, ataxia, and mental confusion.

He observed it in three patients, two alcoholics and a patient with persistent vomiting after the ingestion of sulphuric acid, who presented with progressive stupor and coma, progressing to death.

Carl Wernicke described “polioencephalitis superior haemorrhagica” in the second volume of his Lehrbuch der Gehirnkrankheiten.

In 1852, Magnus Huss mentioned a disturbance of memory in alcoholics, elucidated between 1887 and 1891 by the Russian psychiatrist Sergei Korsakoff, who considered that the polyneuropathy and the memory of disorder represented 'two facets of the same disease', which was designated psychosis polyneuritica.

He observed that the syndrome was usually associated with peripheral nerve inflammation (alcoholic polyneuritis; first described by Moeli in 1884) and presumed that it resulted from a toxin. Therefore, he called the syndrome “polyneuritic psychosis or cerebropathia psychica toxaemica.”

Korsakoff syndrome is often — but not always — preceded by an episode of Wernicke encephalopathy, which is an acute brain reaction to severe lack of thiamine.

The postulation that a single cause was responsible for both Wernicke's disease and Korsakoffs psychosis was first made by Murawieff in 1897. Because the chronic memory loss of Korsakoff syndrome often follows an episode of Wernicke encephalopathy, the chronic disorder is sometimes known as Wernicke - Korsakoff syndrome.
History of Wernicke - Korsakoff syndrome

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