INTRODUCTION: Appropriate diagnosis of von Willebrand disease (VWD), including differential identification of qualitative vs. quantitative von Willebrand factor (VWF) defects has important management implications, but remains problematic.
AIM: The aim of the study was to assess whether 2M VWD, defining qualitative defects not associated with loss of high molecular weight (HMW) VWF, is often misidentified, given highly variable reported frequency ranging from 0 to ~60% of all type 2 VWD.
METHODS: A comparative evaluation of laboratory ability to appropriately identify 2M VWD (n = 4) vs. HMW VWF reduction (n = 4), as sent to participants of an international external quality assessment programme.
RESULTS: Laboratories had considerably greater difficulty identifying type 2M VWD, correctly identifying these on average only 29.4% of occasions, with the 70.6% error rate representing use of insufficient test panels (41.7%), misinterpretation of test results (10.0%) and analytical errors (13.3%). One type 2M case, giving a median of 49 U dL(-1) VWF:Ag, was more often misidentified as type 2A/2B VWD (46.7%) than 2M (34.8%). Another 2M case, giving a median of 189 U dL(-1) VWF:Ag, was instead often misidentified as being normal (non-VWD) (36.4%), with identifications of type 2A/2B VWD (13.6%) also represented. In comparison, errors in identification of HMW VWF reduced samples only averaged 11.5%, primarily driven by use of insufficient test panels (6.3%) or misinterpretation of results (4.2%) and infrequently analytical errors (1.0%).
CONCLUSION: Type 2M VWD is more often misidentified (70.6%) than correctly identified as 2M VWD (29.4%), and potentially explaining the relative under-reported incidence of 2M VWD in the literature.