Procalcitonin, a valuable biomarker assisting clinical decision-making in the management of community-acquired pneumonia

S T Lindstrom, E K C Wong
Internal Medicine Journal 2014, 44 (4): 390-7

BACKGROUND AND AIM: Community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) is a leading cause of mortality, morbidity and hospital admission, which places strain on our healthcare system. Procalcitonin (PCT) is a biomarker of bacterial infection which may help gauge the severity and prognosis of patients with CAP. In addition to clinical predictors, PCT may assist in decisions pertaining to timing of discharge from hospital and the discontinuation of antibiotics. This study aimed to determine the predictive role of PCT measurement in reducing hospital admissions, length of stay (LOS) and antibiotic (AB) usage in patients with CAP.

METHODS: A prospective, single-blinded, externally controlled study of consenting adult patients admitted with CAP. PCT levels were obtained on day 1 and day 3 (when indicated). Investigator-evaluated clinical parameters, together with results of PCT levels, determined the timing of oral AB switch and discharge from hospital. This process was compared against standard practice, but was not actually implemented, for the purpose of this study.

RESULTS: Sixty patients were included in the study. The mean age was 66.5 ± 21.2 years (56.3% male). The average Pneumonia Severity Index was 93 ± 39 (class IV) and the median CURB-65 was 2. The mean LOS for the standard practice cohort was 5.3 ± 4.6 days versus calculated LOS using the PCT guidance pathway of 3.7 ± 2.8 days. (P = 0.00006).

CONCLUSIONS: Our study supports the hypothesis that by incorporation of PCT levels, hospital admission and LOS in patients with CAP can be reduced. A randomised prospective clinical trial is planned in an attempt to help confirm these findings.

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