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Blood. 2009 Aug 6;114(6):1158-65. doi: 10.1182/blood-2009-01-153296. Epub 2009 May 27.

How I treat von Willebrand disease.

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Department of Cell Therapy and Hematology, San Bortolo Hospital, Vicenza, Italy.


Recent multicenter studies have clarified the molecular basis underlying the different von Willebrand disease (VWD) types, all of which are caused by the deficiency and/or abnormality of von Willebrand factor (VWF). These studies have suggested a unifying pathophysiologic concept. The diagnosis of VWD, remains difficult because its clinical and laboratory phenotype is very heterogeneous and may overlap with normal subjects. Stringent criteria are therefore required for a clinically useful diagnosis. In this paper, we delineate a practical approach to the diagnosis and treatment of VWD. Our approach is based on the critical importance of a standardized bleeding history that has been condensed into a final bleeding score and a few widely available laboratory tests, such as VWF ristocetin cofactor activity, VWF antigen and factor VIII. This approach would help identify those subjects who will probably benefit from a diagnosis of VWD. The next step involves performing a trial infusion with desmopressin in all patients who fail to exhibit an enhanced responsiveness to ristocetin. On the basis of these results and through a series of illustrative examples, the clinician will be able to select the best approach for the optimal management of VWD, according to the patient's characteristics and clinical circumstances.

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