Routine Hematoxylin and Eosin Stain Is Specific for the Diagnosis of Cytomegalovirus Infection in Gastrointestinal Biopsy Specimens

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Abstract

Background. Gastrointestinal cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection is a serious complication in immunocompromised patients; clinicians often expect expedited results for biopsy specimens. Our goal is to determine the accuracy of identification of CMV on hematoxylin and eosin (H&E) stain. Methods and Results. A total of 361 biopsy specimens from 273 patients with suspicion for CMV infection were retrieved. CMV was detected by immunohistochemistry (IHC) in 37 specimens acquired from 33 individual patients (average age = 54 years). Among the CMV-positive patients, 29 (88%) were reported to be immunosuppressed. Colon was the most common affected location. Of 37 CMV-positive specimens by IHC, 28 were positive by H&E (76%), 6 were negative (16%), and 3 were suspicious (8%). Of the 29 positive specimens on H&E, 28 were confirmed by IHC (97%) and 1 was indeterminate (3%). The sensitivity and specificity of H&E were 84% and 94%, respectively; the positive predictive value was 97%, and the negative predictive value was 93% (P < .00001). Conclusion. Our results show that a preliminary diagnosis of CMV infection, based on H&E stains, can be reported with high specificity and low risk for false-positive results. Suspicious cases should be deferred pending the result of IHC stains.

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