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CMV serology test

The CMV serology test determines the presence of antibodies to cytomegalovirus (CMV) in the blood.

  • Alternative Names

    CMV antibody tests

  • How the test is performed

    Blood is typically drawn from a vein, usually from the inside of the elbow or the back of the hand. The site is cleaned with germ-killing medicine (antiseptic). The health care provider wraps an elastic band around the upper arm to apply pressure to the area and make the vein swell with blood.

    Next, the health care provider gently inserts a needle into the vein. The blood collects into an airtight vial or tube attached to the needle. The elastic band is removed from your arm. Once the blood has been collected, the needle is removed, and the puncture site is covered to stop any bleeding.

    In infants or young children, a sharp tool called a lancet may be used to puncture the skin and make it bleed. The blood collects into a small glass tube called a pipette, or onto a slide or test strip. A bandage may be placed over the area if there is any bleeding.

    Serology studies the fluid portion of blood (serum) for its antibody content. Serology tests are often repeated a few weeks after the first sample. There are several serology techniques that can be used, depending on the suspected antibodies.

  • How to prepare for the test

    There is no special preparation for the test.

  • How the test will feel

    When the needle is inserted to draw blood, some people feel moderate pain, while others feel only a prick or stinging sensation. Afterward, there may be some throbbing.

  • Why the test is performed

    The test is performed to detect current active CMV infection, or past CMV infection in people who are at risk for reactivation of infection (such as organ transplant recipients and people with a suppressed immune system). The test may also be performed to detect CMV infection in newborns.

  • Normal Values

    People who have never been infected with CMV have no detectable antibodies to CMV.

    Normal value ranges may vary slightly among different laboratories. Talk to your doctor about the meaning of your specific test results.

  • What abnormal results mean

    The presence of antibodies to CMV indicates a current or past infection with CMV. If the number of antibodies rises over a few weeks, it may mean that you have an acute infection.

    Chronic CMV infection (in which the antibody count stays about the same over time) can reactivate in a person with a suppressed immune system.

  • What the risks are

    Veins and arteries vary in size from one patient to another and from one side of the body to the other. Obtaining a blood sample from some people may be more difficult than from others.

    Other risks associated with having blood drawn are slight but may include:

    • Excessive bleeding
    • Fainting or feeling light-headed
    • Hematoma (blood accumulating under the skin)
    • Infection (a slight risk any time the skin is broken)
  • Special considerations

    To detect a blood or organ infection with CMV, the health care provider can test for the presence of CMV itself in the blood or a specific organ.

  • References

    Drew WL. Cytomegalovirus. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier;2007:chap 399.

Review Date: 8/28/2009

Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; and Jatin M. Vyas, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Assistant in Medicine, Division of Infectious Disease, Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- 2014 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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Christie Clinic at the Family Medical Center in Paris
727 East Court Street Paris, IL 61944 Dermatology: 366-1248; Vein and Vascular: 366-2670
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101 West University Avenue Champaign, IL 61820 Main Phone: (217) 366-1200
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1801 West Windsor Road Champaign, IL 61822 (217) 366-8000
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209 West Borman Drive Rantoul, IL 61866 (217) 892-9671
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1001 Commercial Drive Mahomet, IL 61853 Main Number: (217) 586-6600 Convenient Care: (217)366-8130
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300 North Main Street Tuscola, IL 61953 (217) 253-9258
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501 North Dunlap Avenue Savoy, IL 61874 Transformations: (217) 366-7460 Internal Medicine: (217) 366-5434 Ophthalmology: (217) 366-1250
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