Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland Coláiste Ríoga na Máinleá in Éirinn

Irish study leads change in diagnosis and management of common bleeding condition

30 November 2017

Low Von Willebrand Factor can lead to serious bleeding at surgery or during childbirth.

A new clinical study, led by the Irish Centre for Vascular Biology at RCSI, has found that people with the inherited bleeding disorder Low Von Willebrand Factor have a marked increased bleeding tendency, contrary to previous belief that the disorder only posed a mild risk for bleeding. These findings, which have emerged from the LoVIC study, will lead to a change in how doctors perceive and manage this bleeding condition particularly in preparation for surgery or childbirth.

The study, funded by the Health Research Board, is published in the current edition of the leading haematology scientific journal, 

Low Von Willebrand Factor is one of the most common inherited bleeding disorders worldwide, with more than 1 in 1,000 people estimated to be affected. In Ireland only 1 in 10,000 people are registered with the disorder, suggesting many more people may not yet be diagnosed. This Irish study, conducted in the National Coagulation Centre, St. James's Hospital, is the first worldwide to research the causes and management of bleeding experienced by people with Low Von Willebrand Factor. Key findings include that patients respond well to medications that boost Von Willebrand Factor levels and can be successfully managed through surgery and procedures.

The Low Von Willebrand Factor in Ireland Cohort (LoVIC) study has recruited over 150 Irish adults and examined the cause for bleeding problems in patients with Low Von Willebrand Factor.

This novel study is led by Professor James O' Donnell, Director of the Irish Centre for Vascular Biology, RCSI with recruitment directed by Dr Michelle Lavin, Clinical Research Fellow in St. James's Hospital Dublin and the Irish Centre for Vascular Biology, RCSI who commented: "This study finally answers many of the questions about Low Von Willebrand Factor for patients and doctors both in Ireland and worldwide. Low Von Willebrand Factor was previously considered to cause only mild or no bleeding symptoms. We have conclusively shown that people with Low Von Willebrand Factor can experience serious bleeding, especially at surgery or childbirth. However, with targeted medications, we can effectively manage patients at these times to minimise bleeding risk".

Recruitment for further research continues in the National Coagulation Centre with plans to extend enrollment to the study to children through Our Lady's Children's Hospital, Crumlin in January 2018.

LoVIC infographic 



RCSI is ranked among the top 250 (top 2%) of universities worldwide in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings (2018) and its research is ranked first in Ireland for citations. It is an international not-for-profit health sciences institution, with its headquarters in Dublin, focused on education and research to drive improvements in human health worldwide. RCSI is a signatory of the Athena SWAN Charter.