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Transplantation. 1999 Jan 27;67(2):315-20.

Efficacy and cost effectiveness of oral ganciclovir in the prevention of cytomegalovirus disease after lung transplantation.

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Department of Internal Medicine, Zurich University Hospital, Switzerland.



Cytomegalovirus is the single most frequent pulmonary pathogen in lung transplant recipients who survive at least 2 weeks. Patients at increased risk are either seropositive or have received an allograft from a donor with latent infection. Morbidity and mortality caused by cytomegalovirus disease is still considerably high.


In an open, comparative study, we evaluated the efficacy, tolerance, and cost effectiveness of postoperative ganciclovir prophylaxis: intravenous dose of 2x5 mg/kg/day for 14 days, followed by either intravenous doses of 5 mg/kg]day (five patients), or oral doses of 3x 1000 mg (nine patients) up to 90 days. Oral ganciclovir was continued until prednisone was tapered below 15 mg/day. Prophylaxed groups were compared with a historical control (eight patients) in respect to cytomegalovirus disease, in-hospital stay, overall costs, and survival. Follow-up times and the net state of immunosuppressive therapy between groups were comparable.


Six (75%) of the non-prophylaxed patients developed cytomegalovirus disease compared to none in the intravenous and one in the oral ganciclovir group (P=0.013). The non-prophylaxed patients had a longer cytomegalovirus-related in-hospital stay (P=0.018) and nonsignificantly higher cytomegalovirus-related costs. Bronchiolitis obliterans syndrome was less frequent with prophylaxis (P=0.039), and survival tended to be better (P=0.072). The only adverse effect was a subclavian vein thrombosis in the intravenous ganciclovir group.


In lung transplant recipients, ganciclovir prophylaxis, either intravenous or oral, is safe, well tolerated, and effective in preventing cytomegalovirus disease. Moreover, ganciclovir prophylaxis seems likely to reduce the incidence of bronchiolitis obliterans syndrome. The oral formulation might be preferable because its convenience and possibly lower costs.

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