Procalcitonin as a Serum Biomarker for Differentiation of Bacterial Meningitis From Viral Meningitis in Children: Evidence From a Meta-Analysis

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Several studies have explored the use of serum procalcitonin (PCT) in differentiating between bacterial and viral etiologies in children with suspected meningitis. We pooled these studies into a meta-analysis to determine the PCT diagnostic accuracy. All major databases were searched through March 2015. No date or language restrictions were applied. Eight studies (n = 616 pediatric patients) were included. Serum PCT assay was found to be very accurate for differentiating the etiology of pediatric meningitis with pooled sensitivity and specificity of 0.96 (95% CI = 0.92-0.98) and 0.89 (95% CI = 0.86-0.92), respectively. The pooled positive likelihood ratio, negative likelihood ratio, diagnostic odds ratio (DOR), and area under the curve (AUC) for PCT were 7.5 (95% CI = 5.6-10.1), 0.08(95% CI = 0.04-0.14), 142.3 (95% CI = 59.5-340.4), and 0.97 (SE = 0.01), respectively. In 6 studies, PCT was found to be superior than CRP, whose DOR was only 16.7 (95%CI = 8.8-31.7). Our meta-analysis demonstrates that serum PCT assay is a highly accurate and powerful test for rapidly differentiating between bacterial and viral meningitis in children.

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