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Von Willebrand Panel

Does this test have other names?

von Willebrand factor antigen test, von Willebrand factor activity test, ristocetin cofactor activity test, factor VIII coagulant activity test 

What is this test?

This panel of tests is used to diagnose von Willebrand disease. This is a bleeding disorder that causes excessive bleeding from minor injuries or normal physical processes, such as menstruation. It's the most common inherited bleeding disorder, but few people with the disease have symptoms.

If you have von Willebrand disease, you either don't have enough of a substance in your blood called von Willebrand factor, or your von Willebrand factor doesn't work the way it should. This substance plays several important roles in blood clotting. It helps platelets in the blood stick to each other and to the lining of your blood vessels.

This condition is inherited in 3 forms:

  • Type 1. You have too little of the von Willebrand factor and that amount doesn't work correctly.

  • Type 2. The factor is defective.

  • Type 3. The factor is completely missing or very low.

Sometimes people develop von Willebrand disease due to health reasons. But that condition is rarer than the inherited forms. 

Why do I need this test?

You may need this test if you have symptoms of the condition:

  • Abnormal bleeding from minor injuries

  • Abnormal bleeding from your gums or nose

  • Bruising easily

  • In women, abnormally heavy or lengthy periods

  • Abnormal bleeding after dental or medical procedures

  • Bleeding after taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines

You may also need this test if your healthcare provider notes that you have bleeding in your digestive tract or in your joints.

Bleeding can range from mild and occasional to life-threatening hemorrhages. 

What other tests might I have along with this test?

If your first test results are abnormally low or your healthcare provider needs more information, you may need more specialized blood tests. These may include:

  • Von Willebrand factor multimer analysis. This test finds out if you have one of the subtypes of type 2 von Willebrand disease.

  • Ristocetin-induced platelet aggregometry. This finds out if you have a form of type 2 disease or another disease that mimics von Willebrand disease.

  • Von Willebrand factor or factor VIII binding assay. This is another test for a form of type 2 disease. 

What do my test results mean?

Test results may vary depending on your age, gender, health history, and other things. Your test results may be different depending on the lab used. They may not mean you have a problem. Ask your healthcare provider what your test results mean for you.

The first lab tests to determine von Willebrand disease measure the following 3 substances from blood samples. Different measurements of these substances may tell which type of von Willebrand disease you have:

  • Von Willebrand factor antigen. This test measures your blood levels of von Willebrand factor.

  • Von Willebrand functional assay. This test measures how well your von Willebrand factor is working.

  • Factor VIII coagulant activity. Factor VIII is a protein in your blood carried by von Willebrand factor that plays a role in blood clotting. 

How is this test done?

The test is done with a blood sample. A needle is used to draw blood from a vein in your arm or hand. 

Does this test pose any risks?

Having a blood test with a needle carries some risks. These include bleeding, infection, bruising, and feeling lightheaded. When the needle pricks your arm or hand, you may feel a slight sting or pain. Afterward, the site may be sore. 

What might affect my test results?

Anxiety and stress can make your levels of von Willebrand factor and factor VIII go up. Exercising shortly before the test also can cause a rise in von Willebrand factor.

These are other things that can affect your results:

  • Trouble drawing a blood sample

  • Certain illnesses that trigger inflammation in the body

  • Hormonal medicines, including estrogen and birth control pills

  • Pregnancy 

How do I get ready for this test?

Try to stay calm before the blood test. Tell your healthcare provider if you're pregnant, if you have any health conditions or illnesses, or if you have recently exercised. Tell your provider about all medicines, herbs, vitamins, and supplements you are taking. This includes medicines that don't need a prescription and any illegal drugs you may use. 

Online Medical Reviewer: Chad Haldeman-Englert MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Raymond Turley Jr PA-C
Online Medical Reviewer: Tara Novick BSN MSN
Date Last Reviewed: 9/1/2022
© 2000-2023 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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