Published Date: May 8, 2023

Full Text Article

"Bariatric Beriberi": A Rare Case of Wernicke Encephalopathy Two Weeks After Laparoscopic Sleeve Gastrectomy

Authors: Lefika Bathobakae, Sacide S Ozgur, Danielle Lombardo, Nader Mekheal, Patrick Michael

Cureus. 2023 Apr 3;15(4):e37056. doi: 10.7759/cureus.37056. eCollection 2023 Apr.


Wernicke encephalopathy (WE) is an acute neurological syndrome caused by thiamine (vitamin B1) deficiency. This disorder manifests as a triad of gait ataxia, confusion, and vision abnormalities. The absence of a full triad does not rule out WE. Because of its vague presentation, WE is commonly missed in patients with no history of alcohol abuse. Other risk factors for WE include bariatric surgery, hemodialysis, hyperemesis gravidarum, and malabsorption syndromes. WE is a clinical diagnosis that can be confirmed with an MRI of the brain as hyperintensities in the mammillary bodies, periaqueductal area, thalami, and hippocampus. If suspected in a patient, WE must be immediately treated with intravenous thiamine to prevent evolution into Korsakoff syndrome, coma, or death. Currently, there is no consensus in the medical community as to how much thiamine must be given and for how long. Therefore, there is a need for more research in the diagnosis and management of WE after bariatric surgery. Herein, we report a rare case of a 23-year-old female with a history of morbid obesity who developed WE two weeks after a laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy.

PMID: 37153253DOI: 10.7759/cureus.37056PMC: PMC10155465