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Wernicke's encephalopathy in a patient with gastric carcinoma: a diagnosis not to miss
  1. Chandrashekar Udyavara Kudru,
  2. Shivashankara Kaniyoor Nagiri,
  3. Sandeep Rao
  1. Department of Medicine, Kasturba Medical College, Manipal University, Manipal, Karnataka, India
  1. Correspondence to Dr Chandrashekar Udyavara Kudru, shekar_uk{at}


We describe a case of a patient who presented with a 20-day history of vomiting, generalised weakness and loss of appetite and a 2-day history of altered sensorium. On examination, he was grossly emaciated and there were no palpable lymph nodes. Central nervous system examination revealed nystagmus with bilateral lateral recti palsy and abdominal examination showed mild hepatomegaly. MRI of the brain showed bilateral and symmetrical hypertense signal changes in T2-weighted and fluid-attenuated inversion recovery sequences with diffusion restriction in the paramedian ventromedial thalamus. These findings were compatible with Wernicke's encephalopathy. He was started on thiamine supplementation with which neurological signs improved. An ultrasound of the abdomen showed mild hepatomegaly with multiple hyperechoic lesions and wall thickening of the pyloric antrum. Upper gastroduodenoscopy showed ulcerative lesions involving the antrum, pylorus and duodenum. Biopsy revealed moderately differentiated adenocarcinoma. The patient underwent palliative gastrojejunostomy and was clinically better at discharge. It is important to consider Wernicke encephalopathy in patients with gastric cancer who have acute neurological symptoms.

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