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June 1991

Cytomegalovirus Pneumonitis After Cardiac Transplantation

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Medicine (Drs Schulman and Reison), Radiology (Dr Austin), and Surgery (Dr Rose), Columbia University, College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York, NY.

Arch Intern Med. 1991;151(6):1118-1124. doi:10.1001/archinte.1991.00400060060010

To evaluate the incidence and clinical features of cytomegalovirus (CMV) pneumonitis after cardiac transplantation, we identified 27 (16%) of 171 consecutive recipients in whom CMV pneumonitis was confirmed by strict diagnostic criteria. Cytomegalovirus pneumonitis occurred in 6 (30%) of 20 patients treated with azathioprine and prednisone, and 8 (25%) of 32 patients treated with azathioprine, cyclosporine, and prednisone, but only 13 (11%) of 119 patients treated with cyclosporine and prednisone. The incidence of CMV pneumonitis was not related to recipient preoperative CMV titers or to postoperative cardiac rejection, but there was a trend toward increased CMV pneumonitis in patients who received organs from CMV-positive donors. Mean onset of CMV pneumonitis was 2.9 ±1.6 (SD) months after transplantation. In the azathioprine-prednisone group, CMV was always associated with at least one other respiratory pathogen (Aspergillus, n = 5; Pneumocystis carinii, n = 2). In the two cyclosporine groups, CMV was either the sole respiratory pathogen (n = 9), or associated with P carinii (n = 11). Roentgenographically, diffuse bilateral hazy pulmonary opacities were present in 19 (70%) of 27 patients, but focal subsegmental opacity (26%), small pleural effusion (26%), and lobar consolidation (7%) were also observed. When bronchoscopy was performed, bronchoalveolar lavage was the most sensitive technique for detecting CMV (72%), whereas transbronchial biopsy (39%) and combined washings and brushings (33%) were relatively insensitive techniques. Respiratory failure and death occurred in 52% and 44%, respectively, of patients with CMV pneumonitis. In this population of immunocompromised hosts: (1) CMV pneumonitis, alone or with other respiratory pathogens, was a major cause of morbidity and mortality; (2) localized roentgenographic opacity did not exclude CMV pneumonitis; (3) bronchoalveolar lavage was the most sensitive bronchoscopic technique for detecting CMV pneumonitis.

(Arch Intern Med. 1991;151:1118-1124)