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BACKGROUND: Cytomegalovirus (CMV) commonly reactivates after allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplant (HCT), potentially leading to CMV disease and significant morbidity and mortality. To reduce morbidity and mortality, many centers conduct weekly CMV blood polymerase chain reaction (PCR) surveillance testing with subsequent initiation of antiviral therapy upon CMV DNAemia detection. However, the impact of CMV DNAemia on subsequent hospitalization risk has not been assessed using models accounting for the time-varying nature of the exposure, outcome, and confounders.
METHODS: All allogeneic HCTs at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia from January 2004-April 2017 were considered for inclusion. Patients were monitored with CMV surveillance via PCR testing for up to 105 days after HCT receipt. We estimated the association between CMV DNAemia and rate of hospitalization using marginal structural models (MSM).
RESULTS: There were 343 allogeneic HCT episodes in 330 with CMV surveillance; median age was 9.0 (range: 0.1-26.2) and 46.5% were female. And 24.1% of HCT patients had at least one positive CMV blood PCR during the follow-up period. Median time to CMV DNAemia detection was 19 days (range: 4-97). The MSM estimated the incidence rate ratios for an association of CMV DNAemia with hospitalization to be 1.24, (95% confidence interval: 1.04-1.47).
CONCLUSIONS: CMV DNAemia was associated with an increased hospitalization in the post-HCT period. The MSM accounted for time-varying nature of the outcome, exposure and confounders. The findings support prevention of CMV DNAemia in this population. We recommend further investigation into the effectiveness and safety of prophylaxis versus pre-emptive CMV prevention approaches.