Subacute sensory ataxia and optic neuropathy with thiamine deficiency

Marco Spinazzi, Corrado Angelini, Cesare Patrini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background. A 71 year-old man with a history of partial gastrectomy presented to the emergency department with subacute gait instability associated with painful dysesthesias and clumsiness in both hands. 10 years before presentation he had received a diagnosis of megaloblastic anemia, with no neurological involvement, as a result of vitamin B 12 and folate deficiency, for which he was receiving regular supplements.Investigations. Neurological examination; routine laboratory testing; MRI of the spine and brain; lumbar puncture; electromyography; sensory, motor and visual evoked potentials, optic nerve optical coherence tomography; immunoelectrophoresis; cryoglobulins; immunological and infection tests; screening for onconeural antibodies; measurement of serum metabolic values, including vitamins B 12 and E, folates, homocysteine, copper, zinc and pyruvic acid; transketolase activity; gastrointestinal endoscopies; and the glucose breath test.Diagnosis. Subacute sensory ataxia with bilateral optic neuropathy related to thiamine deficiency resulting from remote partial gastrectomy.Management. Parenteral thiamine supplementation followed by chronic oral thiamine and short-term, low-dose multivitamins.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)288-293
Number of pages6
JournalNature Reviews Neurology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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