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Case Reports in Gastrointestinal Medicine
Volume 2018, Article ID 1510850, 3 pages
Case Report

An Autopsy Case of Misdiagnosed Wernicke’s Syndrome after Intragastric Balloon Therapy

Department of Medicine and Aging Sciences, Università degli Studi “G. d’Annunzio”, Via Dei Vestini, 66100 Chieti, Italy

Correspondence should be addressed to Paola Vellante; moc.liamg@etnallev.aloap

Received 21 September 2017; Revised 6 January 2018; Accepted 21 January 2018; Published 13 February 2018

Academic Editor: Yoshihiro Moriwaki

Copyright © 2018 Paola Vellante et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Intragastric balloon (IGB) therapy is a widely used technique to counter obesity, and it is known to be safe and effective. Although there can be a high rate of side effects following IGB therapy, most are self-healing and they are mainly accommodative in nature. Few cases of Wernicke’s syndrome under IGB therapy have been described in the literature, and to the best of our knowledge, none have been fatal. We present here a case of a 51-year-old woman who underwent IGB therapy over 8 months. Late diagnosed Wernicke’s syndrome that first appeared as lower limb neuropathy progressively immobilized the patient, until she required bed rest. Finally, a major complication of pneumonia caused her death. Wernicke’s syndrome has been mainly related to bariatric surgery techniques, but it must also be linked to IGB therapy (and also to other restrictive weight-loss interventions). As the use of IGB therapy spreads, the literature must alert physicians to this complication. Wernicke’s syndrome is a severe but reversible condition when diagnosed and treated early.