What is Korsakoff syndrome?
Wernicke–Korsakoff syndrome (WKS), also called wet brain, Korsakoff's psychosis, and alcoholic encephalopathy, is the combined presence of Wernicke's encephalopathy and Korsakoff's syndrome. Due to the close relationship between these two disorders, patients suffering from both are usually diagnosed with WKS, as a single syndrome. It is a manifestation of thiamine (vitamin B1) deficiency, a spectrum of disorders which also encompasses beriberi, Wernicke's encephalopathy, and Korsakoff's psychosis. These disorders may manifest concurrently or separately. WKS is usually secondary to alcohol abuse. It mainly causes vision changes, ataxia and impaired memory.
Wernicke's encephalopathy and WKS is most commonly seen in alcoholic patients, and only 20% of cases are identified before death. This failure in diagnosis of WE and thus treatment of the disease leads to death in approximately 20% of cases, while 75% are left with permanent brain damage associated with WKS.