Procalcitonin as Biomarker of Infection: Implications for Evaluation and Treatment

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Abstract

Procalcitonin (PCT) is a quickly measurable marker, assumed to have high sensitivity and specificity for sepsis and infection. A literature search was conducted to evaluate PCT ability as a diagnostic and prognostic tool in infectious processes and its ability to monitor the antibiotic therapy. PCT level is increased in bacterial and fungal infections, but not in viral infections, with a significantly higher level in patients with bacteremia compared with uninfected patients (2.5 vs. 0.3 ng/mL; P < 0.0001). A PCT value of ≤0.1 ng/mL discards bacteremia and microbiological tests (negative predictive value of 96.3%), >0.1 ng/mL needs microbiological tests, and >1.0 ng/mL is indicative of bacteremia. Antibiotic treatment algorithms guided by PCT decreased the need for antibiotic treatment in approximately 50%. PCT is a promising test in clinical practice to decide the introduction of antibiotic therapy in addition to the existing tools, without neglecting the clinical assessment, with a significant decrease in costs.

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