Monday, September 23, 2019

Korsakoff syndrome

Q: Korsakoff syndrome (KS) is characterized by? (select one)

A) selective anterograde amnesia
B) selective retrograde amnesia
C) both of the above
D) none of the above
E) generalized amnesia

Answer: C

Korsakoff syndrome (KS) is nothing but a distinct advanced neuropsychiatric manifestation of Wernicke encephalopathy (WE) with the same cause i.e., thiamine loss. This is more pronounced in ETOH abusers. It has its own specific MRI findings. It is a disorder of selective anterograde and retrograde amnesia. It is characteristically different from general amnesia (Choice E) as there is an intact sensorium, and preservation of long-term memory and other cognitive skills. Interestingly, attention and social behavior are usually preserved. Although confabulation is more common, patients with KS stay unaware of their illness. 

 KS is irreversible but Acetylcholinesterase inhibitors & memantine have been tried with some success.



1. Blansjaar BA, Van Dijk JG. Korsakoff minus Wernicke syndrome. Alcohol Alcohol 1992; 27:435.

2. Bowden SC. Separating cognitive impairment in neurologically asymptomatic alcoholism from Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome: is the neuropsychological distinction justified? Psychol Bull 1990; 107:355. 

3. Cochrane M, Cochrane A, Jauhar P, Ashton E. Acetylcholinesterase inhibitors for the treatment of Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome--three further cases show response to donepezil. Alcohol Alcohol 2005; 40:151. 

4.  Rustembegović A, Kundurović Z, Sapcanin A, Sofic E. A placebo-controlled study of memantine (Ebixa) in dementia of Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome. Med Arh 2003; 57:149.

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