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Q J Med. 1988 Jun;67(254):473-86.

Retinal and gastrointestinal disease due to cytomegalovirus in patients with the acquired immune deficiency syndrome: prevalence, natural history, and response to ganciclovir therapy.

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Department of Medicine, University of California San Francisco.


Of 760 AIDS patients seen at San Francisco General Hospital in 1986, 5.7 per cent had retinitis and 2.2 per cent had gastrointestinal disease caused by cytomegalovirus. We reviewed the records of 44 patients treated with ganciclovir for culture-confirmed cytomegalovirus retinal (31 patients) or gastrointestinal disease (17 patients) or both (four patients) in 1986. Retinitis stabilized or improved during initial treatment with ganciclovir in 22 of 27 (81.5 per cent) patients. Following a median 10-day induction course, 16 patients with retinitis continued to have serial ophthalmologic assessments: eight patients were maintained on treatment and eight had maintenance treatment deferred. Before treatment, the two groups were comparable in age, Karnofsky scores, hematologic assessment, visual acuity, and history with respect to Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia. Retinitis did not progress for a median 53.8 days in the immediate maintenance group compared to 18.8 days for the deferred maintenance group (p = 0.01). In 17 patients with CMV gastrointestinal disease, nine of 14 (64 per cent) had resolution of pain and eight of 11 (73 per cent) had resolution of diarrhea when treated initially with ganciclovir. In both retinitis and gastrointestinal disease patients, ganciclovir decreased recovery of CMV from urine and blood markedly. Ganciclovir also caused a decrease in mean absolute neutrophil counts to about half of baseline values; decreases in mean platelet count and hemoglobin were also noted but were less than 25 per cent. Neutropenia severe enough to require dose adjustment (less than 800 cells/microliters) occurred in 31 per cent of patients receiving maintenance ganciclovir.

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