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Crit Care. 2013 Jun 20;17(3):R115. doi: 10.1186/cc12787.

Procalcitonin decrease over 72 hours in US critical care units predicts fatal outcome in sepsis patients.



Close monitoring and repeated risk assessment of sepsis patients in the intensive care unit (ICU) is important for decisions regarding care intensification or early discharge to the ward. We studied whether considering plasma kinetics of procalcitonin, a biomarker of systemic bacterial infection, over the first 72 critical care hours improved mortality prognostication of septic patients from two US settings.


This retrospective analysis included consecutively treated eligible adults with a diagnosis of sepsis from critical care units in two independent institutions in Clearwater, FL and Chicago, IL. Cohorts were used for derivation or validation to study the association between procalcitonin change over the first 72 critical care hours and mortality.


ICU/in-hospital mortality rates were 29.2%/31.8% in the derivation cohort (n=154) and 17.6%/29.4% in the validation cohort (n=102). In logistic regression analysis of both cohorts, procalcitonin change was strongly associated with ICU and in-hospital mortality independent of clinical risk scores (Acute Physiology, Age and Chronic Health Evaluation IV or Simplified Acute Physiology Score II), with area under the curve (AUC) from 0.67 to 0.71. When procalcitonin decreased by at least 80%, the negative predictive value for ICU/in-hospital mortality was 90%/90% in the derivation cohort, and 91%/79% in the validation cohort. When procalcitonin showed no decrease or increased, the respective positive predictive values were 48%/48% and 36%/52%.


In septic patients, procalcitonin kinetics over the first 72 critical care hours provide prognostic information beyond that available from clinical risk scores. If these observations are confirmed, procalcitonin monitoring may assist physician decision-making regarding care intensification or early transfer from the ICU to the floor.

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