Diagnostic Test Directory

Virology Laboratory

Cytomegalovirus (CMV) PCR (Quantitative) - blood specimen

  • LIS Mnemonic: CMVPCRQT


    Lavendar (EDTA)

    Volume Required

    4-7 ml whole blood; for infants a volume of 2-4 ml is acceptable

    Minimum Required

    4 ml whole blood; for infants a volume of 2 ml is acceptable


    Transport blood in a timely fashion (preferably within 8 hours of collection) at room temperature to the Clinical Virology Laboratory.




    Whole blood in an EDTA-anticoagulated tube is the preferred specimen source. Thoroughly mix the blood by gently inverting the collection tube 6-12 times before sending to the laboratory. Other acceptable specimens include body fluids, tissue submitted in viral transport medium, and CSF.

    Unacceptable conditions

    Clotted specimens

Days Performed



Same day

Reflex Testing

When monitoring the blood of immunocompromised patients for CMV over time, a quantitative PCR assay will be automatically performed on all patients whose blood has been previously positive for CMV by qualitative and/or quantitative PCR testing.




Amplification and detection of CMV DNA polymerase gene using TaqMan real-time PCR technology. This test is performed pursuant to an agreement with Roche Molecular Systems, Inc.

Disease Information


CMV infections are common and usually asymptomatic in otherwise healthy children and adults; however, the incidence and spectrum of disease in newborns and in immunocompromised hosts establish this virus as an important human pathogen. Real-time PCR is widely used for the direct detection and quantification of CMV from blood leukocytes in recipients of solid-organ and bone marrow transplants, cancer patients (particularly those with leukemia and lymphoma receiving chemotherapy), and individuals infected with HIV who are suspected of having systemic CMV infection. Quantitative measures of CMV DNA can provide a rapid diagnosis of established disease, identify patients at risk of developing disease, assess the progression of disease and the risk of relapse, direct the initiation of preemptive therapy, monitor the response to antiviral therapy, and predict treatment failure and the emergence of drug-resistant virus. In general, patients with active CMV disease are viremic and have elevated levels of CMV DNA in their blood; a rapid rise in CMV DNA copy number correlates with the progession to or presence of symptoms and drug failure during treatment.


If positive, quantity of cytomegalovirus DNA is reported in copies/ml and log10 values. Dynamic range of the assay is 500 copies/ml to 3.74 million c

Reference Values

Negative or quantity of cytomegalovirus DNA is less than the lower limit of detection

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