Laboratory assays of VWF activity and use of desmopressin trials in the diagnosis of VWD: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Blood Adv. 2022 Jun 28;6(12):3735-3745. doi: 10.1182/bloodadvances.2021005431.


von Willebrand Disease (VWD) is associated with significant morbidity because of excessive bleeding. Early diagnosis and treatment are important to prevent and treat these symptoms. We systematically reviewed the accuracy of any von Willebrand factor (VWF) activity assay in the diagnosis and classification of patients for VWD. We searched Cochrane Central, MEDLINE, and EMBASE for eligible studies. The risk of bias was assessed using the Quality Assessment of Diagnostic Accuracy Studies (QUADAS)-2 and the certainty of evidence using the GRADE framework. We pooled estimates of sensitivity and specificity. The review included 77 studies that evaluated the use of newer tests of VWF platelet binding activity (VWF:GPIbR, VWF:GPIbM) and VWF:RCo for the diagnosis of VWD (13 studies), VWF propeptide to VWF:Ag ratio, and desmopressin trial for the diagnosis of type 1C VWD (5 studies), VWF multimer analysis and VWF:CB/VWF:Ag ratio for the classification of type 2 VWD (11 studies), genetic testing and ristocetin-induced platelet aggregation to diagnose type 2B VWD (14 studies), genetic testing and FVIII:VWF binding to diagnose type 2N VWD (17 studies). Based on available diagnostic test accuracy, there appear to be comparable test accuracy results between newer tests of platelet binding activity of VWF function and VWF:RCo. The findings of these reviews support VWF multimer analysis or VWF:CB/VWF:Ag to diagnose type 2 VWD. The desmopressin trial test with 1- and 4-hour postinfusion blood work is the test of choice to confirm increased VWF clearance in patients with suspected VWD type 1C. Additionally, genetic testing is most useful in diagnosing type 2B VWD and has a role in the diagnostic algorithm of suspected type 2N VWD.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Blood Coagulation Tests
  • Deamino Arginine Vasopressin / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • von Willebrand Disease, Type 2*
  • von Willebrand Diseases* / diagnosis
  • von Willebrand Diseases* / drug therapy
  • von Willebrand Factor / metabolism


  • von Willebrand Factor
  • Deamino Arginine Vasopressin