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N Engl J Med. 1997 Jul 10;337(2):83-90.

Treatment of cytomegalovirus retinitis with a sustained-release ganciclovir implant. The Ganciclovir Implant Study Group.

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  • 1Department of Ophthalmology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, USA.



Sustained-release, intraocular implants that deliver ganciclovir are an alternative method for the treatment of cytomegalovirus retinitis in patients with the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS).


We conducted a randomized study of 188 patients with AIDS and newly diagnosed cytomegalovirus retinitis. The patients were randomly assigned to treatment with an implant delivering 1 microg of ganciclovir per hour, an implant delivering 2 microg of ganciclovir per hour, or intravenous ganciclovir. The primary outcome we studied was progression of cytomegalovirus retinitis.


The median time to progression of retinitis was 221 days with the 1-microg-per-hour implant (75 eyes), 191 days with the 2-microg-per-hour implant (71 eyes), and 71 days with ganciclovir administered intravenously (76 eyes; P<0.001). The risk of progression of retinitis was almost three times as great among patients treated with intravenous ganciclovir as among those treated with a ganciclovir implant (risk ratio, 2.8; P<0.001). However, the risk of disease in the initially uninvolved eye was lower with intravenous ganciclovir than with a ganciclovir implant (risk ratio, 0.5; P=0.19). Patients treated with intravenous ganciclovir were also less likely to have extraocular cytomegalovirus infections (0, vs. 10.3 percent in the two implant groups; P=0.04).


For the treatment of cytomegalovirus retinitis, the sustained-release ganciclovir implant is more effective than intravenous ganciclovir, but patients treated with a ganciclovir implant alone remain at greater risk for the development of cytomegalovirus disease outside of the treated eye.

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