Correlation of procalcitonin and C-reactive protein to inflammation, complications, and outcome during the intensive care unit course of multiple-trauma patients

Michael Meisner, Heide Adina, Joachim Schmidt
Critical Care: the Official Journal of the Critical Care Forum 2006, 10 (1): R1

BACKGROUND: A comparison of the amount of and the kinetics of induction of procalcitonin (PCT) with that of C-reactive protein (CRP) during various types of and severities of multiple trauma, and their relation to trauma-related complications, was performed.

METHODS: Ninety adult trauma patients admitted to the intensive care unit of our tertiary care hospital were evaluated in a prospective case study. During the initial 24 hours after trauma the Injury Severity Score, the Sepsis-related Organ Failure Assessment score, and the Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation II score were evaluated. PCT, CRP, the sepsis criteria (American College of Chest Physicians/Society of Critical Care Medicine definitions), and the Sepsis-related Organ Failure Assessment score were measured at days 1-7, as well as at days 14 and 21, concluding the observation period with the 28-day survival.

RESULTS: The induction of PCT and CRP varied in patients suffering from trauma. PCT increased only moderately in most patients and peaked at day 1-2 after trauma, the concentrations rapidly declining thereafter. CRP ubiquitously increased and its kinetics were much slower. Complications such as sepsis, infection, blood transfusion, prolonged intensive care unit treatment, and poor outcome were more frequent in patients with initially high PCT (>1 ng/ml), whereas increases of CRP showed no positive correlation.

CONCLUSION: In patients with multiple trauma due to an accident, the PCT level provides more information than the CRP level since only moderate amounts of PCT are induced, and higher concentrations correlate with more severe trauma and a higher frequency of various complications, including sepsis and infection. Most importantly, the moderate trauma-related increase of PCT and the rapidly declining concentrations provide a baseline value near to the normal range at an earlier time frame than for CRP, thus allowing a faster and more valid prediction of sepsis during the early period after trauma.

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