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Clinical Utility of Procalcitonin in the Diagnosis of Pneumonia


Abstract

BACKGROUND
The clinical utility of procalcitonin in the diagnosis and management of pneumonia remains controversial.
METHODS
We assessed the clinical utility of procalcitonin in 2 prospective studies: first, a multicenter diagnostic study in patients presenting to the emergency department with acute dyspnea to directly compare the diagnostic accuracy of procalcitonin with that of interleukin 6 and C-reactive protein (CRP) in the diagnosis of pneumonia; second, a randomized management study of procalcitonin guidance in patients with acute heart failure and suspected pneumonia. Diagnostic accuracy for pneumonia as centrally adjudicated by 2 independent experts was quantified with the area under the ROC curve (AUC).
RESULTS
Among 690 patients in the diagnostic study, 178 (25.8%) had an adjudicated final diagnosis of pneumonia. Procalcitonin, interleukin 6, and CRP were significantly higher in patients with pneumonia than in those without. When compared to procalcitonin (AUC = 0.75; 95% CI, 0.71-0.78), interleukin 6 (AUC = 0.80; 95% CI, 0.77-0.83) and CRP (AUC = 0.82; 95% CI, 0.79-0.85) had significantly higher diagnostic accuracy (P = 0.010 and P < 0.001, respectively). The management study was stopped early owing to the unexpectedly low AUC of procalcitonin in the diagnostic study. Among 45 randomized patients, the number of days on antibiotic therapy and the length of hospital stay were similar (both P = 0.39) in patients randomized to the procalcitonin-guided group (n = 25) and usual-care group (n = 20).
CONCLUSIONS
In patients presenting with dyspnea, diagnostic accuracy of procalcitonin for pneumonia is only moderate and lower than that of interleukin 6 and CRP. The clinical utility of procalcitonin was lower than expected.
SUMMARY
Pneumonia has diverse and often unspecific symptoms. As the role of biomarkers in the diagnosis of pneumonia remains controversial, it is often difficult to distinguish pneumonia from other illnesses causing shortness of breath. The current study prospectively enrolled unselected patients presenting with acute dyspnea and directly compared the diagnostic accuracy of procalcitonin, interleukin 6, and CRP for the diagnosis of pneumonia. In this setting, diagnostic accuracy of procalcitonin for pneumonia was lower as compared to interleukin 6 and CRP. The clinical utility of procalcitonin was lower than expected.
CLINICALTRIALSGOV IDENTIFIER: NCT01831115.

Abstract

BACKGROUND
The clinical utility of procalcitonin in the diagnosis and management of pneumonia remains controversial.
METHODS
We assessed the clinical utility of procalcitonin in 2 prospective studies: first, a multicenter diagnostic study in patients presenting to the emergency department with acute dyspnea to directly compare the diagnostic accuracy of procalcitonin with that of interleukin 6 and C-reactive protein (CRP) in the diagnosis of pneumonia; second, a randomized management study of procalcitonin guidance in patients with acute heart failure and suspected pneumonia. Diagnostic accuracy for pneumonia as centrally adjudicated by 2 independent experts was quantified with the area under the ROC curve (AUC).
RESULTS
Among 690 patients in the diagnostic study, 178 (25.8%) had an adjudicated final diagnosis of pneumonia. Procalcitonin, interleukin 6, and CRP were significantly higher in patients with pneumonia than in those without. When compared to procalcitonin (AUC = 0.75; 95% CI, 0.71-0.78), interleukin 6 (AUC = 0.80; 95% CI, 0.77-0.83) and CRP (AUC = 0.82; 95% CI, 0.79-0.85) had significantly higher diagnostic accuracy (P = 0.010 and P < 0.001, respectively). The management study was stopped early owing to the unexpectedly low AUC of procalcitonin in the diagnostic study. Among 45 randomized patients, the number of days on antibiotic therapy and the length of hospital stay were similar (both P = 0.39) in patients randomized to the procalcitonin-guided group (n = 25) and usual-care group (n = 20).
CONCLUSIONS
In patients presenting with dyspnea, diagnostic accuracy of procalcitonin for pneumonia is only moderate and lower than that of interleukin 6 and CRP. The clinical utility of procalcitonin was lower than expected.
SUMMARY
Pneumonia has diverse and often unspecific symptoms. As the role of biomarkers in the diagnosis of pneumonia remains controversial, it is often difficult to distinguish pneumonia from other illnesses causing shortness of breath. The current study prospectively enrolled unselected patients presenting with acute dyspnea and directly compared the diagnostic accuracy of procalcitonin, interleukin 6, and CRP for the diagnosis of pneumonia. In this setting, diagnostic accuracy of procalcitonin for pneumonia was lower as compared to interleukin 6 and CRP. The clinical utility of procalcitonin was lower than expected.
CLINICALTRIALSGOV IDENTIFIER: NCT01831115.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > University Hospital Zurich > Institute of Clinical Chemistry
04 Faculty of Medicine > University Hospital Zurich > Clinic for Endocrinology and Diabetology
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Scopus Subject Areas:Life Sciences > Clinical Biochemistry
Health Sciences > Biochemistry (medical)
Language:English
Date:December 2019
Deposited On:13 Jan 2020 11:27
Last Modified:28 Nov 2020 01:00
Publisher:American Association for Clinical Chemistry
ISSN:0009-9147
OA Status:Green
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1373/clinchem.2019.306787
PubMed ID:31615771

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