Objectives: Acquired von Willebrand's syndrome (AvWS) is an uncommon complication of monoclonal gammopathy of uncertain significance (MGUS) or myeloma. We investigated clinical and laboratory test abnormalities, pathophysiological hypotheses, and treatment options in this poorly known condition.
Patients: Five patients with MGUS and two with myeloma who met classic criteria for acquired von Willebrand's syndrome were included in this retrospective study.
Results: Acquired von Willebrand's syndrome was diagnosed before the gammopathy in five of the seven patients. The severity of the bleeding events was chiefly dependent on the degree of von Willebrand's factor deficiency and on the presence or absence of gastrointestinal tract angiodysplasia. Bleeding event severity was similar in patients with nonmalignant and malignant disease. An antibody that inhibited von Willebrand's factor was detected in all seven patients. Clotting returned to normal after treatment of the malignancy in one of the two patients with myeloma. In patients with MGUS, treatment is warranted only when bleeding occurs or before surgery. Von Willebrand's factor concentrates were of limited efficacy because of their short half-life. Intravenous immunoglobulins had a longer-lasting effect (about 3 weeks); this treatment was used on a regular basis in two patients with recurrent bleeding.
Conclusions: A diagnosis of von Willebrand's syndrome in adulthood should prompt a search for a monoclonal gammopathy. In patients with gammopathies, simple clotting tests ensure the diagnosis of acquired von Willebrand's syndrome.