Test Catalog

Interpretive Handbook

Test 81240 :
Cytomegalovirus (CMV), Molecular Detection, PCR

Clinical Information Discusses physiology, pathophysiology, and general clinical aspects, as they relate to a laboratory test

Infection with cytomegalovirus (CMV) is a significant cause of morbidity and mortality in transplant recipients and other immunocompromised hosts. Specific neurologic syndromes associated with CMV infection include subacute radiculomyelopathy, peripheral neuropathy, and encephalitis. 


CMV-associated central nervous system (CNS) disease occurs most commonly in immunocompromised patients. Histologic evidence of CMV infections in autopsy brain tissue was identified in 20% to 40% of AIDS patients. In 2 separate studies, CMV (DNA) was the most common herpesvirus (29/181, 16/49) detected from cerebrospinal fluid of patients with AIDS. 


CNS infections with CMV can also occur in immunocompetent patients. CMV is a leading cause of congenital viral infections worldwide, and laboratory testing by real-time PCR is useful in the diagnosis of neonatal CMV disease.

Useful For Suggests clinical disorders or settings where the test may be helpful

Rapid qualitative detection of cytomegalovirus DNA

Interpretation Provides information to assist in interpretation of the test results

Detection of cytomegalovirus (CMV) DNA in a specimen supports the clinical diagnosis of infection due to this virus.


Studies indicate that CMV DNA is not detected by PCR in cerebrospinal fluid from patients without central nervous system disease caused by this virus.

Cautions Discusses conditions that may cause diagnostic confusion, including improper specimen collection and handling, inappropriate test selection, and interfering substances

A negative result does not eliminate the possibility of cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection.


This assay is only to be used for patients with a clinical history and symptoms consistent with CMV infection, and must be interpreted in the context of the clinical picture. This test should not be used to screen asymptomatic patients.

Reference Values Describes reference intervals and additional information for interpretation of test results. May include intervals based on age and sex when appropriate. Intervals are Mayo-derived, unless otherwise designated. If an interpretive report is provided, the reference value field will state this.


Clinical References Provides recommendations for further in-depth reading of a clinical nature

1. Espy M, Binnicker MJ: Comparison of six real-time PCR assays for the qualitative detection of cytomegalovirus in clinical specimens. J Clin Microbiol 2013:51(11):3749-3752

2. Petito CK, Cho ES, Lemann W, et al: Neuropathy of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS): an autopsy review. J Neuropathol Exp Neurol 1986 November;45(6):635-646

3. Cinque P, Vago L, Dahl H, et al: Polymerase chain reaction on cerebrospinal fluid for diagnosis of virus-associated opportunistic diseases of the central nervous system in HIV-infected patients. AIDS 1996 August;10(9):951-958

4. Broccolo F, Iulioano R, Careddu AM, et al: Detection of lymphotropic herpesvirus DNA by polymerase chain reaction in cerebrospinal fluid of AIDS patients with neurological disease. Acta Virol 2000 June-August;44(3):137-143

5. Prosch S, Schielke E, Reip A, et al: Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) encephalitis in an immunocompetent young person and diagnostic reliability of HCMV DNA PCR using cerebrospinal fluid of nonimmunosuppressed patients. J Clin Microbiol 1998 December;36(12):3636-3640

6. Sia IG, Patel R: New strategies for prevention and therapy of cytomegalovirus infection and disease in solid-organ transplant recipients. Clin Microbiol Rev 2000;13:83-121

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