Definition of Wernicke's encephalopathy in English:

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Wernicke's encephalopathy

(also Wernicke's syndrome)


[mass noun] Medicine
A neurological disorder caused by thiamine deficiency, typically from chronic alcoholism or persistent vomiting, and marked by mental confusion, abnormal eye movements, and unsteady gait.
Example sentences
  • Many physicians use solutions that contain dextrose; however, it may be advisable to give thiamine first, because of the theoretic risk of Wernicke's encephalopathy.
  • A report on managing Wernicke's encephalopathy in emergency departments says that the drunk of no fixed abode is most at risk, and it's these patients whose notes end up at the back of the queue.
  • Thiamine supplementation is essential in malnourished patients for the prevention of Wernicke's encephalopathy.


Late 19th century: named after Karl Wernicke (see Wernicke's area).

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: Wernicke's en|ceph¦al|op¦athy

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