Early assessment of pancreatic infections and overall prognosis in severe acute pancreatitis by procalcitonin (PCT): a prospective international multicenter study

Bettina M Rau, Esko A Kemppainen, Andrew A Gumbs, Markus W Büchler, Karl Wegscheider, Claudio Bassi, Pauli A Puolakkainen, Hans G Beger
Annals of Surgery 2007, 245 (5): 745-54

BACKGROUND: Pancreatic infections and sepsis are major complications in severe acute pancreatitis (AP) with significant impact on management and outcome. We investigated the value of Procalcitonin (PCT) for identifying patients at risk to develop pancreatic infections in severe AP.

METHODS: A total of 104 patients with predicted severe AP were enrolled in five European academic surgical centers within 96 hours of symptom onset. PCT was measured prospectively by a semi-automated immunoassay in each center, C-reactive protein (CRP) was routinely assessed. Both parameters were monitored over a maximum of 21 consecutive days and in weekly intervals thereafter.

RESULTS: In contrast to CRP, PCT concentrations were significantly elevated in patients with pancreatic infections and associated multiorgan dysfunction syndrome (MODS) who all required surgery (n = 10) and in nonsurvivors (n = 8) early after onset of symptoms. PCT levels revealed only a moderate increase in patients with pancreatic infections in the absence of MODS (n = 7), all of whom were managed nonoperatively without mortality. A PCT value of > or =3.5 ng/mL on 2 consecutive days was superior to CRP > or =430 mg/L for the assessment of infected necrosis with MODS or nonsurvival as determined by ROC analysis with a sensitivity and specificity of 93% and 88% for PCT and 40% and 100% for CRP, respectively (P < 0.01). The single or combined prediction of the two major complications was already possible on the third and fourth day after onset of symptoms with a sensitivity and specificity of 79% and 93% for PCT > or =3.8 ng/mL compared with 36% and 97% for CRP > or =430 mg/L, respectively (P = 0.002).

CONCLUSION: Monitoring of PCT allows early and reliable assessment of clinically relevant pancreatic infections and overall prognosis in AP. This single test parameter significantly contributes to an improved stratification of patients at risk to develop major complications.

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