Diagnostic Highlights

General Comments: A viral culture is the most sensitive diagnostic laboratory procedure. Cultures, however, take 3 to 7 days and cannot differentiate acute from chronic infection.


Normal Result

Abnormality with Condition


Culture of the urine, sputum, or mouth swab

IgM antibodies

Virus not isolated

Virus isolated

Presence of virus confirms the diagnosis

Antibodies not present CMV antibodies present Indicates a recent infection

Other Tests: Virus isolation of samples from cervix, semen, breast milk, white blood cells, and biopsy specimens; shell vial assay; because cultures of CMV may grow slowly and require up to 6 weeks of incubation, this assay is an adaptation of tissue culture technique that provides results more rapidly. It is described as the centrifugation enhancement monoclonal-antibody culture technique, or the shell-vial assay. Complement-fixation (CT) tests, indirect immunofluorescent antibody (IFA) tests.

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