Among the 468 patients, the most common risk factor was alcoholism (n=434 [92.7%]). More than one-third of patients (n=181 [38.7%]) had the classic WE triad of symptoms (ocular signs, cerebellar dysfunction, and confusion). Among 252 patients for whom magnetic resonance imaging data were available, 135 (53.6%) had WE-related lesions and 42 (16.7%) had cerebellar lesions. Of the 468 patients, 25 (5.3%) died during hospitalization. Alcoholic patients presented more frequently than nonalcoholic patients with cerebellar signs (P=.01) but less frequently with ocular signs (P=.02). Alcoholic patients had a significantly higher frequency of hyponatremia (P=.04) and decreased platelet count (P=.005) compared with nonalcoholics. Alcoholic patients were diagnosed earlier than nonalcoholics (median time to diagnosis, 1 vs 4 days; P=.001) and had shorter hospitalizations (13 vs 23 days; P=.002).
Conclusion: Compared with nonalcoholic patients, alcoholic patients with WE are more likely to present with cerebellar signs and less likely to have ocular signs. Diagnosis may be delayed in nonalcoholic patients. Mortality in the present series was lower than described previously.
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