Prophylaxis and treatment of bleeding complications in von Willebrand disease type 3

Semin Thromb Hemost. 2006 Sep;32(6):621-5. doi: 10.1055/s-2006-949667.


Treatment of type 3 von Willebrand disease (vWD) relies on infusion with plasma-derived factor concentrates containing von Willebrand factor (vWF). Patients with types 1 and 2 vWD who do not respond satisfactorily after receiving desmopressin need treatment with concentrates. The rationale for long-term prophylaxis in vWD is obvious: prophylaxis has been successfully used in hemophilia, and joint hemorrhages with development of hemophilic arthropathy can occur, especially in type 3 vWD. In Sweden, prophylaxis for vWD began during the 1960s, and we now have experience from a cohort of 37 patients treated for a median of 11 years (range, 2 to 45 years). The majority of subjects (n = 28) have type 3 vWD. The mean dose used for treatment is 24 units factor VIII/kg body weight given one to three times weekly. Indications for prophylaxis have included joint bleeds, bleeds from nose and mouth, menorrhagia and gastrointestinal bleeds. The annual number of bleeds has decreased dramatically following onset of prophylaxis. We conclude that long-term prophylactic treatment of vWD is warranted in the majority of cases with type 3 and in some cases, depending on the clinical phenotype, for patients with other subtypes. Additional studies are ongoing in an international effort, the von Willebrand Disease Prophylaxis Network.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Blood Transfusion
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Deamino Arginine Vasopressin / therapeutic use*
  • Factor VIII / therapeutic use
  • Female
  • Hemophilia A / drug therapy
  • Hemorrhage* / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • von Willebrand Diseases / drug therapy*


  • Factor VIII
  • Deamino Arginine Vasopressin