Hemorrhagic symptoms and bleeding risk in obligatory carriers of type 3 von Willebrand disease: an international, multicenter study


Francesco Rodeghiero, Department of Hematology and Hemophilia and Thrombosis Center, San Bortolo Hospital, I-36100 Vicenza, Italy.
Tel.: +39 0444 753626; fax: +39 0444 753922; e-mail: rodeghiero@hemato.ven.it


Summary. Objectives: We undertook an international, multicenter study to describe the clinical picture and to estimate the bleeding risk in a group of obligatory carriers of type 3 von Willebrand disease (VWD). Patients and methods: Obligatory carriers (OC) of type 3 VWD were identified by the presence of offspring with type 3 VWD or by being an offspring of a type 3 patient. Normal controls were age- and sex-matched with the obligatory carriers. A physician-administered standardized questionnaire was used to evaluate hemorrhagic symptoms at presentation. A score system ranging from 0 (no symptom) to 3 (hospitalization, replacement therapy, blood transfusion) was used to quantitate bleeding manifestations. Odds ratios were computed for each symptom. Results: Ten centers participated to the study, enrolling a total of 35 type 3 VWD families, with 70 OC. A total of 215 normal controls and 42 OC for type 1 VWD were also included. About 40% of type 3 OC had at least one bleeding symptom compared to 23% of normal controls and 81.8% of type 1 OC (P < 0.0001 by chi-squared test), showing that type 3 OC clearly represent a distinct population from type 1 OC. The clinical situations associated with an increase of bleeding risk in type 3 OC were epistaxis [odds ratio 3.6; 90% confidence intervals (CI) 1.84–21.5], cutaneous bleeding (odds ratio 5.5; 90% CI 2.5–14.1) and postsurgical bleeding (odds ratio 16.3; 90% CI 4.5–59). The severity of bleeding score correlated with the degree of factor (F) VIII reduction in plasma. Conclusions: OC for type 3 VWD represent a distinctive population from type 1 OC. These patients, however, present with more frequent bleeding symptoms in comparison to normal controls, especially in case of significantly low FVIII. Desmopressin and/or tranexamic acid might be useful to prevent or treat bleeding in these cases.