Cytomegalovirus (CMV) pneumonitis is one of the most severe manifestations of CMV disease among immunocompromised patients. The diagnosis of CMV pneumonitis traditionally has required the use of invasive procedures such as lung biopsy. In this retrospective study, we evaluated a centrifugation culture method in samples of bronchoalveolar fluid for the noninvasive diagnosis of CMV pneumonitis. During a 9-mo period, 75 bronchoalveolar lavage samples were collected from 58 patients with pneumonitis. We analyzed the data from 21 patients in whom lung tissue samples were obtained within 14 days of the bronchoalveolar lavage. Centrifugation cultures of bronchoalveolar fluid were positive for CMV in 12 cases. CMV pneumonitis was confirmed in samples of lung tissue from five (42%) of the 12 patients, whereas no evidence of CMV pneumonitis was found in the remaining seven (58%) cases. Of nine patients with negative centrifugation cultures, CMV pneumonitis was confirmed in two (22%). When compared with conventional cultures, we found bronchoalveolar lavage fluid centrifugation cultures to be highly sensitive (100%) and specific (92%) for the detection of CMV infection. However, detection of CMV by centrifugation culture proved to be only moderately sensitive (71%) and nonspecific (50%) for the diagnosis of CMV pneumonitis.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This study was supported by grants AM13083, POICA21737, and NO1-AI-72826 from the National Institutes of Health, and by a grant from the Minnesota Medical Foundation.