Journal Article

Management of cytomegalovirus infection by weekly surveillance after renal transplant: analysis of cost, rejection and renal function

Colin C. Geddes, Colin C. Church, Tara Collidge, Elizabeth A. B. McCruden, Graeme Gillespie, Elaine Matthews, Anke Hainmueller and J. Douglas Briggs

in Nephrology Dialysis Transplantation

Published on behalf of European Renal Association - European Dialysis and Transplant Assoc

Volume 18, issue 9, pages 1891-1898
Published in print September 2003 | ISSN: 0931-0509
Published online September 2003 | e-ISSN: 1460-2385 | DOI:
Management of cytomegalovirus infection by weekly surveillance after renal transplant: analysis of cost, rejection and renal function

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Background. Recently published guidelines recommend anti-viral prophylaxis as the best method of preventing cytomegalovirus (CMV) disease in the post-transplant period, but some authors have suggested that surveillance strategies may be as effective and less costly. The aim of the present study was to analyse the effectiveness and cost of a deferred treatment strategy using weekly CMV polymerase chain reaction (PCR) surveillance in high risk renal transplant recipients.

Methods. We used weekly surveillance for plasma CMV PCR positivity for the first 3 months in consecutive renal transplants between CMV seropositive donors and seronegative recipients, and analysed incidence of CMV infection, timing of infection, acute rejection and renal function at 1 year.

Results. There was evidence of CMV infection in 27/41 (65.9%) patients and of CMV disease in 20/41 (48.8%). Only 8/20 (40%) patients were PCR positive before disease onset. Patients were treated on the basis of clinical evidence of CMV disease (deferred strategy), but we used the data to compare the potential costs of a pre-emptive strategy (all patients PCR positive before the onset of clinical features of disease treated with intravenous ganciclovir) and prophylaxis (oral ganciclovir for 3 months in all patients). The deferred strategy cost £1159 per patient (excluding the cost of hospitalization) while a pre-emptive strategy would cost £1381 per patient. Prophylaxis costs £1500– £2213 per patient depending on published estimates of relative risk reduction. Mean estimated creatinine clearance at 1 year was 70.0 ml/min in patients who experienced no infection, 47.7 ml/min in patients who experienced infection but no disease, and 39.6 ml/min in patients who experienced CMV disease (P < 0.001). The incidence of acute rejection in these groups was 7.1, 14.3 and 35%, respectively (P = 0.13).

Conclusions. CMV surveillance strategies may cost slightly less but may have a deleterious effect on long-term outcome compared with prophylaxis.

Keywords: cost; cytomegalovirus; kidney transplant; polymerase chain reaction; prophylaxis; renal function

Journal Article.  6198 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Nephrology

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