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01.12.2018 | Case report | Ausgabe 1/2018 Open Access

Journal of Medical Case Reports 1/2018

Relevant pericardial effusion caused by cytomegalovirus infection in an immunocompetent patient: a case report

Journal of Medical Case Reports > Ausgabe 1/2018
Tabea Hutter, Dirk Springe, Lukas Ebnöther, Marcos Delgado



Cytomegalovirus infection is known to cause symptomatic disease in immunocompromised patients, while an infection in immunocompetent individuals normally causes few or no symptoms. We present the case of an immunocompetent adult patient with unexpected severe evolution.

Case presentation

An otherwise healthy, 72-year-old Caucasian woman presented with complaints of progressive shoulder pain and dyspnoea on exertion. The blood test results showed elevated inflammation parameters and elevated hepatic transaminase levels. Radiologic examinations were carried out, and the computed tomography scan revealed a hepatomegaly and a chest X-ray showed evidence of a unilateral pleural effusion. A transthoracic echocardiography detected pericardial effusion with consecutive hemodynamic changes. Since it was considered that using ultrasound-guided pericardiocentesis could significantly increase the risk of liver injury due to hepatomegaly, a pericardial window was performed instead. Further investigation showed that our patient tested positive for an acute cytomegalovirus infection in the serologic tests. Laboratory findings included new evidence of immunoglobulin M seroconversion and high immunoglobulin G avidity, so we considered the possibility that a former cytomegalovirus infection may be coexisting with a new cytomegalovirus reinfection.


In immunocompetent individuals, a symptomatic cytomegalovirus primary infection or reinfection should be considered in patients presenting with pericardial effusion and serositis.

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