Cytomegalovirus infection in critically ill patients: a systematic review

Crit Care. 2009;13(3):R68. doi: 10.1186/cc7875. Epub 2009 May 14.


Introduction: The precise role of cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection in contributing to outcomes in critically ill immunocompetent patients has not been fully defined.

Methods: Studies in which critically ill immunocompetent adults were monitored for CMV infection in the intensive care unit (ICU) were reviewed.

Results: CMV infection occurs in 0 to 36% of critically ill patients, mostly between 4 and 12 days after ICU admission. Potential risk factors for CMV infection include sepsis, requirement of mechanical ventilation, and transfusions. Prolonged mechanical ventilation (21 to 39 days vs. 13 to 24 days) and duration of ICU stay (33 to 69 days vs. 22 to 48 days) correlated significantly with a higher risk of CMV infection. Mortality rates in patients with CMV infection were higher in some but not all studies. Whether CMV produces febrile syndrome or end-organ disease directly in these patients is not known.

Conclusions: CMV infection frequently occurs in critically ill immunocompetent patients and may be associated with poor outcomes. Further studies are warranted to identify subsets of patients who are likely to develop CMV infection and to determine the impact of antiviral agents on clinically meaningful outcomes in these patients.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Critical Illness / epidemiology*
  • Critical Illness / mortality
  • Cytomegalovirus Infections / epidemiology*
  • Cytomegalovirus Infections / mortality
  • Humans
  • Immunocompetence
  • Risk Factors
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Virus Activation