Pediatric Ganciclovir (Cytovene®) Uses, Side Effects and Precautions

What Is Ganciclovir?

Ganciclovir (Cytovene®) is also sometimes referred to DHPG.


Ganciclovir is an antiviral medication used to prevent or treat infections caused by Cytomegalovirus (CMV). Liver transplant recipients are susceptible to CMV due to immunosuppressant drugs. Ganciclovir will not cure CMV eye infection, but it may help prevent the symptoms from becoming worse.

Ganciclovir Dosage

Gancyclovir is taken by mouth or given by injection. The oral medication is available in 250 or 500 mg capsules.

How to Properly Take Ganciclovir

Ganciclovir capsules should be swallowed whole and taken with food. Do not open or crush the capsules. Your child should drink plenty of fluids while taking ganciclovir.

Missed Doses

If your child misses a dose, it should be taken as soon as you or your child remembers. If you remember within two hours of the time for your next dose, however, skip the missed dose and resume your child’s usual dosing schedule. Do not double the dose to catch up.

Ganciclovir Side Effects

Ganciclovir side effects for children and teens may include:

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Nervousness
  • Confusion

You may notice your child has less interest in eating than usual. Sometimes, people taking ganciclovir have stomach upset that ranges from mild upset to nausea and vomiting. Other side effects include tremor, weakness, and swollen ankles or feet. These side effects are all relatively common with this medication, and not cause for alarm.

In rare cases, some people have these side effects when taking ganciclovir:

  • Skin rash
  • Sore throat
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Cough
  • Unusual bleeding or bruising
  • Confusion or severe abdominal pain

If any of these side effects continues or becomes bothersome, inform your transplant doctor or transplant coordinator.

Ganciclovir Drug Interactions

Tell your doctor or pharmacist about any prescription or over-the-counter medications your child is taking, so you can be informed of interactions and prevent them.

Precautions for Children

Ganciclovir may cut down the number of blood cells in your child’s blood. Blood cells are needed for clotting, so the decrease may cause your child to bleed more easily and heal more slowly. When taking ganciclovir, your child should (as much as possible) avoid activities where bruising or injury may occur.

Ganciclovir Availability

Ganciclovir is an IV medication regularly available from home care services and pharmacies. The oral version of this medication - Valcyte or Valganciclovir - is readily available at most pharmacies.

Drug information changes periodically. For the most updated information on drugs, visit

Learn more about other Liver Transplant Drugs.