The role of prophylaxis in bleeding disorders

Erik Berntorp, P. De Moerloose, Rolf Ljung

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The rationale for long-term prophylaxis in more severe forms of von Willebrand's disease (VWD) is obvious, as mucosal bleeding and haemophilia-like joint bleeds resulting in chronic morbidity may occur. However, the experience with prophylactic treatment in this group is scanty. An international VWD Prophylaxis Network (VWD PN) was established in 2006. The VWD PN will investigate prophylaxis with retrospective and prospective studies. Eighteen centres in Europe and North America are recruiting patients and an additional 40 centres are preparing for or evaluating participation. In the absence of randomized prospective studies for most rare bleeding disorders, guidelines for prophylaxis are a subject of controversy. In situations where there is a strong family history of bleeding, long-term prophylaxis is administered in selected cases. Short intervals of prophylaxis can also be given before some surgeries or during pregnancy. The benefits of prophylaxis must be balanced by the risk of side effects. Therefore, it is essential to delineate its management in a specialized comprehensive care environment. In haemophilia, decades of clinical experience and numerous retrospective and, recently, prospective studies clearly demonstrate that prophylactic treatment is superior to on-demand treatment, regardless of whether the outcome is the number of joint- or life-threatening bleeds, arthropathy evaluated by X-ray or MRI, or quality of life measured by generic or haemophilia-specific instruments. Optimal prophylactic treatment should be started early in life (primary prophylaxis) but various options exist for the dose and dose interval. These depend on the objective of treatment in the individual patient, which, in turn, is dependent on resources in the health care system.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)189-193
Issue numbers5
Publication statusPublished - 2010

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Pediatrics
  • Cardiac and Cardiovascular Systems

Free keywords

  • von Willebrand's disease
  • factor VIII
  • factor IX
  • haemophilia
  • prophylaxis
  • disorders
  • rare bleeding


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