Background and aim: Monitoring of complications in patients undergoing cardiac surgery may be difficult because cardiopulmonary bypass (CPB) can lead to a systemic inflammatory response syndrome because of exposure of blood to nonphysiological surfaces. The purpose of the study was to establish the baseline levels of procalcitonin (PCT) after cardiac surgery in our population in order to analyze a possible induction of the inflammatory response that might interfere with the diagnosis of infection by PCT.
Methods: Serum samples from patients undergoing coronary artery bypass grafting or valve replacement were collected at the time of admission to intensive care unit, after surgery as well as in the first and second postoperative days. Patients were followed for the development of postoperative complications. PCT levels were measured by immunoluminometric assay.
Results: The mean PCT values were significantly higher in the first postoperative day in all the groups except the control group. No increased PCT levels were found related neither to duration of CPB, nor to time of aortic clamping. Only patients who presented complications had significantly increased PCT values immediately after surgery (p = 0.004), in the first postoperative day (p < 0.0001), and in the second postoperative day (p < 0.0001) with respect to those who recovered uneventfully.
Conclusions: A slight and transient increase in PCT levels was observed in the first postoperative day after cardiac surgery. Significant elevation of PCT was only observed when complications were present.