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Surg Infect (Larchmt). 2019 Mar 26. doi: 10.1089/sur.2018.245. [Epub ahead of print]

Reactivation of Latent Cytomegalovirus Infection after Major Surgery: Risk Factors and Outcomes.

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1 Division of Geographic Medicine and Infectious Diseases, Tufts Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts.
2 Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts.
3 Tufts Clinical and Translational Science Institute, Tufts University, Boston, Massachusetts.



Reactivation of latent cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection occurs in previously immunocompetent critically ill individuals and may be associated with increased morbidity and mortality. Our aim was to explore risk factors for and outcomes after CMV reactivation in patients undergoing major surgery.


We performed a retrospective case control study of patients without underlying immunocompromise who developed post-operative CMV reactivation from 2004-2016. Cases included patients testing positive for CMV by viral load, culture, or histopathology. Controls were matched by age, gender, type, and year of surgery.


Sixteen CMV cases were matched to 32 controls. Median age was 65 and median time from surgery to CMV diagnosis was 32 days. Symptoms included fever (94%), hepatitis (75%), myelosuppression (56%), and diarrhea (38%). Despite similar baseline comorbidities, cases were more likely to return to surgery (odds ratio [OR] 6.31; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.29-30.74), require renal replacement therapy (OR 18.54; 95% CI, 2.36-145.6), total parenteral nutrition (OR 33.0; 95% CI, 6.60-262.37) and corticosteroids (OR 18.78; 95% CI, 4.5-103.9). Length of stay was increased (median 51 vs. 8 days, pā€‰=ā€‰0.005), co-infections were more common (OR 15.10; 95% CI, 1.89-120.8), and mortality was higher (38% vs. 0%, pā€‰<ā€‰0.01).


Cytomegalovirus reactivation occurs in previously immunocomptent patients post-operatively and is associated with poor outcomes including other infections and mortality. Potential risk factors include prolonged length of stay, surgical complications, and corticosteroid use. It is not clear from our study whether CMV reactivation is a surrogate marker of severe illness and post-operative complications or if CMV reactivation plays a causative role in the development of these adverse outcomes.


cytomegalovirus; immunocompetent; surgery


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