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Korsakoff's Syndrome - Diagnosis

patient memory information ability

Whenever an individual has a possible diagnosis of alcoholism, and then has the sudden onset of memory difficulties, it is important to seriously consider the diagnosis of Korsakoff's syndrome. There is no specific laboratory test to diagnose Korsakoff's syndrome in a patient, but a careful exam of the individual's mental state can be revealing. Although the patient's ability to confabulate answers may be convincing, checking the patient's retention of factual information (asking, for example, for the name of the current president of the United States), along with his/her ability to learn new information (repeating a series of numbers, or recalling the names of three objects 10 minutes after having been asked to memorize them) should point to the diagnosis. Certainly a patient known to have just begun recovery from Wernicke's syndrome, who then begins displaying memory difficulties, would be very likely to have developed Korsakoff's syndrome.

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