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Open Access Case Report

Cytomegalovirus associated transverse myelitis in an immunocompetent host with DNA detection in cerebrospinal fluid; a case report

Suneth Karunarathne*, Dumitha Govindapala, Yapa Udayakumara and Harshini Fernando

Author Affiliations

National hospital of Sri Lanka, Regent street, Colombo, Sri Lanka

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BMC Research Notes 2012, 5:364  doi:10.1186/1756-0500-5-364

Published: 20 July 2012



Cytomegalovirus associated transverse myelitis among immunocompetent adults has been rarely reported. We report a patient presenting with clinical myelitis followed by previously unreported finding of cytomegalovirus deoxyribonucleic acid in cerebrospinal fluid.

Case report

A forty year old immunocompetent male presented with acute onset progressive bilateral lower limb weakness. His spinal magnetic resonance imaging findings, cerebrospinal fluid analysis and clinical picture were compatible with transverse myelitis. Polymerase chain reaction of the cerebrospinal fluid for cytomegalovirus was positive while other infectious agents were not detected by serology or polymerase chain reaction. He was treated with intravenous ganciclovir with partial clinical response.


Viral genome detection in the cerebrospinal fluid was performed but negative in five out of ten reported cases of cytomegalovirus associated transverse myelitis in the immunocompetent host. In previous cases the inability to isolate the virus in cerebrospinal fluid was considered favouring an immunological mechanism leading to pathogenesis rather than direct viral toxicity but this case is against that theory. This case highlights the fact that Cytomegalovirus should be considered as an aetiological agent in patients with transverse myelitis and that the virus may cause serious infections in immunocompetent host. Therefore this report is of importance to neurologists and physicians in general.

Transverse myelitis; Cytomegalovirus; Immunocompetent; Cerebrospinal fluid; Polymerase chain reaction; Hyper intensity