Can preemptive cytomegalovirus monitoring be as effective as universal prophylaxis when implemented as the standard of care in patients at moderate risk?

Transplantation. 2010 May 27;89(10):1218-23. doi: 10.1097/TP.0b013e3181d54ba6.


Background: Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is a significant cause of morbidity, mortality, and cost in solid organ transplant recipients. This study was conducted to measure both the clinical efficacy and the pharmacoeconomic impact of implementing, as standard of care, an abbreviated preemptive monitoring strategy compared with universal prophylaxis in a large teaching hospital.

Methods: This prospective observational study included only recipients at moderate risk for CMV infection, specifically recipients who were CMV seropositive before transplant. Recipients transplanted between February 2006 and December 2006 received prophylactic valganciclovir for 90 days after transplant, and those transplanted between January 2007 and December 2007 were enrolled in a preemptive monitoring strategy that included no anti-CMV prophylaxis but instead used serial CMV polymerase chain reactions in weeks 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 16, 20, and 24 to monitor the development of CMV DNAemia. Costs were analyzed from a societal perspective.

Results: A total of 130 patients were included in this study. Baseline and transplant demographics are well matched between groups. CMV syndrome occurred in three patients in each group, and one patient in the preemptive group developed CMV disease. Thirty-seven percent of patients in the preemptive group developed CMV DNAemia, 68% of these patients received antiviral therapy. Personnel and laboratory monitoring costs were significantly higher in the preemptive group, whereas medication cost was significantly higher in the prophylaxis group.

Conclusions: Although outcomes and the overall cost of (1) universal prophylaxis and (2) preemptive monitoring are similar, universal prophylaxis places the cost burden on the patient whereas preemptive monitoring shifts the cost burden to the healthcare system.

MeSH terms

  • Acyclovir / economics
  • Acyclovir / therapeutic use
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antiviral Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Cytomegalovirus
  • Cytomegalovirus Infections / economics
  • Cytomegalovirus Infections / epidemiology*
  • Cytomegalovirus Infections / prevention & control
  • Female
  • Ganciclovir / analogs & derivatives
  • Ganciclovir / economics
  • Ganciclovir / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Lymphocyte Depletion / adverse effects
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Organ Transplantation / adverse effects*
  • Patient Selection
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Valganciclovir


  • Antiviral Agents
  • Immunosuppressive Agents
  • Valganciclovir
  • Ganciclovir
  • Acyclovir