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Vitamin B Deficiency a Danger After Gastric Bypass Surgery

Case study notes need to monitor patients for resulting neurological condition

TUESDAY, Dec. 27, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- Doctors need to check for vitamin B1 deficiency in patients after they've had gastric bypass surgery for obesity.

That's the conclusion of a case study that found vitamin B1 deficiency can lead to a serious neurological condition called Wernicke encephalopathy.

The report involved a 35-year-old women who developed numerous problems -- nausea, anorexia, fatigue, hearing loss, eye movement abnormalities, forgetfulness and ataxia (problems with muscle movement) -- after she had gastric bypass surgery. Within 12 weeks of her surgery, she had lost 40 pounds and had trouble walking and concentrating.

A magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan detected abnormal signals in various areas of the woman's brain, indicating a deficiency in vitamin B1. This vitamin, also known as thiamine, is essential for carbohydrate metabolism and normal nervous system functioning.

The woman's intravenous dose of vitamin B1 was increased to 100 milligrams every eight hours, which led to a decrease in abnormal eye movement and confusion. A follow-up MRI 11 days later showed the abnormal brain signals had decreased.

The report appears in the Dec. 27 issue of Neurology.

"The neurological complications following gastric bypass surgery are diverse. Vitamin B1 deficiency and Wernicke encephalopathy should be carefully considered in surgically treated obese patients," study co-author Dr. Raul N. Mandler, a neurologist at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., said in a prepared statement.

More information

The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more about vitamin B1.

SOURCE: American Academy of Neurology, news release, Dec. 27, 2005
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