Procalcitonin Levels in Survivors and Nonsurvivors of Sepsis: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

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Procalcitonin (PCT) is an acute-phase reactant that has been used to diagnose and potentially track the treatment of sepsis. Procalcitonin values rise initially as the infection sets in and eventually fall with resolution. Its level has been reported to be significantly higher in potential nonsurvivors of a septic episode than among survivors. However, there is also a significant amount of evidence against this. We thus conducted a meta-analysis to pool data from all the available studies regarding PCT levels in survivors and nonsurvivors of sepsis. An extensive literature search was conducted using the key words “procalcitonin,” “sepsis,” and “prognosis.” The references of the relevant studies were also scanned. The data from the eligible studies were extracted and analyzed for any significant pooled mean difference between survivors and nonsurvivors both on days 1 and 3. The mean difference in the day 1 PCT values between survivors and nonsurvivors was found to be statistically significant (P = 0.02). The mean difference on day 3 was also statistically significant (P = 0.002). However, in a subgroup consisting of studies on patients with severe sepsis and septic shock, day 1 difference was not found to be significant (P = 0.62). We found heterogeneity of 90% in our study population, which decreased to 62% after exclusion of studies conducted in emergency department patients. Procalcitonin levels in early stages of sepsis are significantly lower among survivors as compared with nonsurvivors of sepsis.

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