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Current understanding of von Willebrand's disease in women – some answers, more questions

Authors


Peter A. Kouides, MD, Rochester General Hospital, 1425 Portland Avenue, Rochester, NY 14621, USA.
Tel.: +1 585 922 4020; fax: +1 585 922 4622; e-mail: peter.kouides@viahealth.org

Abstract

Summary.  Considerable progress has been made in the past decade in describing the obstetrical and gynaecological aspects of von Willebrand's disease (VWD). In addition, epidemiological studies have established an approximately 11–16% prevalence of the laboratory diagnosis of VWD in women presenting with menorrhagia. However, it is not established presently whether an upfront VWD screening should be a part of the standard evaluation of menorrhagia. This is because it is presently not known whether therapy in the VWD patient tailored specifically for VWD will appreciably alter the natural history of menorrhagia compared with the non-VWD menorrhagia patient. There are also subtleties involved in securing the diagnosis of VWD in women presenting with menorrhagia in terms of fluctuation of von Willebrand factor (VWF) levels vis-à-vis the menstrual cycle and the potential impact of oral contraceptive on VWF levels. Regarding management of VWD-related menorrhagia, pending ongoing comparative trials of intranasal desmopressin (DDAVP), tranexamic acid, oral contraceptive and the levonorgestrel intrauterine device, specific recommendations cannot be made presently regarding the superiority of one intervention compared with the other. The management of VWD-related postpartum haemorrhage is also an area of active debate in terms of ‘best practice’ in type 1 (? prophylactic DDAVP), type 2 [? expectant management if factor VIII:C (FVIII:C) level normalizes] and type 3 patients (? intensity and duration of infusional therapy with a VWF-containing plasma-derived FVIII concentrate). This review summarizes the present state of knowledge and highlights numerous questions for future study based on our present understanding of VWD in women.

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