Wernicke encephalopathy is a syndrome characterised by ataxia, ophthalmoplegia, nystagmus, confusion, and impairment of short-term memory.
It is caused by lesions in the medial thalamic nuclei, mammillary bodies, periaqueductal and periventricular brainstem nuclei, and superior cerebellar vermis, often resulting from inadequate intake or absorption of thiamine (vitamin B1), especially in conjunction with carbohydrate ingestion.
It is most commonly correlated with prolonged alcohol consumption resulting in thiamine deficiency. Alcoholics are therefore particularly at risk, but it may also occur with thiamine deficiency states arising from other causes, particularly in patients with such gastric disorders as carcinoma, chronic gastritis, Crohn's disease, and repetitive vomiting, particularly after bariatric surgery.
Wernicke's encephalopathy was one of the possible explanations for Rebecca Adler's symptoms but she turned out to be negative for it.