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Intensive Care Med. 2000 Mar;26 Suppl 2:S165-9. doi: 10.1007/BF02900731.

Procalcitonin (PCT) in patients with abdominal sepsis.

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Department of Surgery, University of Würzburg, Josef-Schneider Str. 2, D-97080 Würzburg, Germany.



To assess the accuracy of procalcitonin as a measure of severity in patients with septic abdominal illnesses and the sepsis syndrome, to compare measurements with those of other inflammatory mediators, and to predict outcome.


We carried out a prospective clinical study from 246 patients with infective or septic episodes confirmed at laparotomy and 66 patients undergoing elective operations who acted as controls. Specimens of blood for measurement of cytokine concentrations determination were obtained daily from septic patients. In the control group specimens were obtained before operation, at the end of operation, and on each of the following days until normal recovery (day 10). Every two weeks up to 3 months for patients with metastases, who were being followed up.


Compared with other cytokines such as tumor necrosis factor alphaa and interleukin 6 procalcitonin was closely related to the development of infective and septic complications. 59 of 246 patients (24%) with sepsis died. Procalcitonin concentrations preoperatively [median 2.05 compared with 4.2 ng/ml (p=0.08)] (Mann-Whitney U-test) did not differ, but those on the days 1,4 and at the end differed significantly [day 1: 4.9 compared with 13.8 ng/ml (p<0.01); day 4: 4.8 compared with 13.0 ng/ml (p<0.01) and 0.4 compared with 13.25 ng/ml (p<0.01) at the end of the study]. In the control group only 7 (1.6%) of all blood samples, were detected outside the normal range (up to 0.8 ng/ml).


Procalcitonin is a new indicator of infection and sepsis. TNF and IL-6 concentrations always rise after major operations and fall in the absence of infection, indicating operative trauma. Procalcitonin is sensitive in detecting infective complications. Under routine conditions the procalcitonin concentrations seems to be valid, reproducible and detectable.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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