• von Willebrand disease;
  • desmopressin;
  • inherited bleeding disorders;
  • bleeding time;
  • type 2 B vWD;
  • von Willebrand factor

Summary. Type II B von Willebrand disease (vWD) is a rare subtype of vWD characterized by the presence of an abnormal von Willebrand factor (vWF) with enhanced affinity for the platelet membrane receptor glycoprotein Ib. The phenotypic hallmarks of the disease are represented by heightened ristocetin-induced platelet aggregation, occurring at very low ristocetin concentration, and the lack of high-molecular-weight vWF multimers in plasma. When infused with desmopressin, a variable degree of thrombocytopenia usually occurs in these patients, resulting from in vivo platelet aggregation caused by the release of abnormal vWF multimers from endogenous stores. We have reviewed the available literature data concerning the biological and clinical effects of desmopressin in the few cases so far reported. Despite the fear of thrombotic or haemorrhagic events, no significant side-effects have been reported also in the cases (70%) with severe thrombocytopenia. Moreover, the few clinical reports with the use of desmopressin in type II B patients showed a favourable effect in the prevention of bleeding during surgery or dental extraction. Thus, it appears that desmopressin could be safely used in selected clinical situations in patients with type II B vWD.