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Shock. 2009 Jun;31(6):586-91. doi: 10.1097/SHK.0b013e31819716fa.

Efficacy of procalcitonin in the early diagnosis of bacterial infections in a critical care unit.

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Central Clinical Laboratories, Mie University Hospital, Tsu, Mie, Japan.


Procalcitonin (PCT) is a marker of severe bacterial infections and organ failure due to sepsis. The purpose of the present study was to identify the appropriate cutoff level of PCT based on the findings of a blood culture and polymerase chain reaction (PCR). The PCT levels were measured in 116 patients in an intensive care unit who were suspected of having bacteremia, to examine its relationship with a blood culture or PCR. The PCT levels were significantly high in patients with bacteremia, but they were also moderately high in some patients who were positive for fungus DNA. The area under the curve was significantly higher for PCT than for C-reactive protein. The appropriate cutoff values of PCT for bacteremia were 0.38 microg/L for the high negative predictive value and 0.83 microg/L for the high positive predictive value. Procalcitonin was slightly related to mortality, and the combination of a blood culture and PCR was thus found to increase the sensitivity for mortality. These findings suggest that PCT is useful for the diagnosis of bacteremia and that the diagnostic value of PCT in combination a with blood culture and PCR for bacterial infection or mortality further increases.

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