Background. Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is a major cause of morbidity and mortality in immunocompromised patients, with CMV pneumonitis among the most severe manifestations of infection. Although bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) samples are frequently tested for CMV, the clinical utility of such testing remains uncertain. Methods. Retrospective analysis of adult patients undergoing BAL testing via CMV polymerase chain reaction (PCR), shell vial culture, and conventional viral culture between August 2008 and May 2011 was performed. Cytomegalovirus diagnostic methods were compared with a comprehensive definition of CMV pneumonitis that takes into account signs and symptoms, underlying host immunodeficiency, radiographic findings, and laboratory results. Results. Seven hundred five patients underwent 1077 bronchoscopy episodes with 1090 BAL specimens sent for CMV testing. Cytomegalovirus-positive patients were more likely to be hematopoietic cell transplant recipients (26% vs 8%, P < .0001) and less likely to have an underlying condition not typically associated with lung disease (3% vs 20%, P < .0001). Histopathology was performed in only 17.3% of CMV-positive bronchoscopy episodes. When CMV diagnostic methods were evaluated against the comprehensive definition, the sensitivity and specificity of PCR, shell vial culture, and conventional culture were 91.3% and 94.6%, 54.4% and 97.4%, and 28.3% and 96.5%, respectively. Compared with culture, PCR provided significantly higher sensitivity and negative predictive value (P = .001), without significantly lower positive predictive value. Cytomegalovirus quantitation did not improve test performance, resulting in a receiver operating characteristic curve with an area under the curve of 0.53. Conclusions. Cytomegalovirus PCR combined with a comprehensive clinical definition provides a pragmatic approach for the diagnosis of CMV pneumonitis.
View details for DOI 10.1093/ofid/ofv212
View details for PubMedID 26885542