Von Willebrand Disorder

Von Willebrand Disorder (VWD) is caused by a deficiency of the Von Willebrand Factor (VWF) in the blood which affects the blood's ability to clot. VWF normally works to prevent bleeding if there is an injury to a blood vessel.  In this scenario, platelets in the blood will clump together to plug the hole in the blood vessel to stop the bleeding. VWF acts like a sort-of glue to help the platelets stick together and form a blood clot.

In someone with VWD platelets are not able to stick together efficiently to prevent bleeding.  In this case, patients with VWD may suffer heavy, hard-to-stop bleeding after an injury such as a fall or during an operation, for example a tonsillectomy. Bleeding may also occur spontaneously, for example with recurrent nose bleeds. The most common form of bleeding in females who have VWD is an excessively heavy menstrual flow.

Many patients with VWD will only have a mild form, and if they have never had an operation, may not have ever had any bleeding. Some of the treatment options for patients with VWD include desmopressin, a hormone replacement which stimulates release of VWF, and infusion of the VWF.