Abstract

von Willebrand disease (VWD) is the most common autosomal inherited bleeding disorder, with an estimated prevalence of 1 in 1000 individuals. VWD is classified into quantitative and qualitative forms. Diagnosis of VWD is complex and requires (1) a personal history of bleeding symptoms, (2) family history of bleeding or VWD, and (3) confirmatory laboratory testing. There are certain bleeding assessment tools to objectively measure bleeding symptoms in patients that have been shown to correlate with the diagnosis as well as the severity of VWD. Laboratory diagnosis requires at least initially a measurement of von Willebrand factor (VWF) antigen levels, VWF platelet binding activity (VWF:RCo, VWF:GPIbM, and VWF:GPIbR), and factor VIII (FVIII) activity. Additional testing to confirm the specific subtype may include VWF collagen binding activity, low-dose ristocetin VWF-platelet binding, FVIII-VWF binding, VWF multimer analysis, and VWF propeptide antigen. Recent advances have been made regarding some of these assays. Molecular testing in VWD is not found to be useful in “low VWF” or most type 1 VWD cases but may be informative in patients with severe type 1 VWD, type 1C VWD, type 2 VWD, or type 3 VWD for accurate diagnosis, genetic counseling, and appropriate treatment. The diagnostic algorithm for VWD is complex, but advances continue to be made in improving VWF functional assays and diagnostic pathways.

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