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Emerg Med J. 2013 May;30(5):406-10. doi: 10.1136/emermed-2011-200808. Epub 2012 May 29.

Diagnostic performance of procalcitonin for hospitalised children with acute pyelonephritis presenting to the paediatric emergency department.

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  • 1Department of Pediatrics, Chung Shan Medical University Hospital, Taichung, Taiwan.



Urinary tract infection (UTI) is a common bacterial infection in children that can result in permanent renal damage. This study prospectively assessed the diagnostic performance of procalcitonin (PCT) for predicting acute pyelonephritis (APN) among children with febrile UTI presenting to the paediatric emergency department (ED).


Children aged ≤10 years with febrile UTI admitted to hospital from the paediatric ED were prospectively studied. Blood PCT, C reactive protein (CRP) and white blood cell (WBC) count were measured in the ED. Sensitivity, specificity, predictive values, multilevel likelihood ratios, receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve analysis and multivariate logistic regression were used to assess quantitative variables for diagnosing APN.


The 136 enrolled patients (56 boys and 80 girls; age range 1 month to 10 years) were divided into APN (n=87) and lower UTI (n=49) groups according to (99m)Tc-dimercaptosuccinic acid scan results. The cut-off value for maximum diagnostic performance of PCT was 1.3 ng/ml (sensitivity 86.2%, specificity 89.8%). By multivariate regression analysis, only PCT and CRP were retained as significant predictors of APN. Comparing ROC curves, PCT had a significantly greater area under the curve than CRP, WBC count and fever for differentiating between APN and lower UTI.


PCT has better sensitivity and specificity than CRP and WBC count for distinguishing between APN and lower UTI. PCT is a valuable marker for predicting APN in children with febrile UTI. It may be considered in the initial investigation and therapeutic strategies for children presenting to the ED.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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