Comparison of thromboelastometry with procalcitonin, interleukin 6, and C-reactive protein as diagnostic tests for severe sepsis in critically ill adults

Crit Care. 2010;14(5):R178. doi: 10.1186/cc9284. Epub 2010 Oct 7.


Introduction: Established biomarkers for the diagnosis of sepsis are procalcitonin, interleukin 6, and C-reactive protein. Although sepsis evokes changes of coagulation and fibrinolysis, it is unknown whether thromboelastometry can detect these alterations. We investigated whether thromboelastometry variables are suitable as biomarkers for severe sepsis in critically ill adults.

Methods: In the observational cohort study, blood samples were obtained from patients on the day of diagnosis of severe sepsis (n = 56) and from postoperative patients (n = 52), and clotting time, clot formation time, maximum clot firmness, alpha angle, and lysis index were measured with thromboelastometry. In addition, procalcitonin, interleukin 6, and C-reactive protein levels were determined. For comparison of biomarkers, receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves were used, and the optimal cut-offs and odds ratios were calculated.

Results: In comparison with postoperative controls, patients with sepsis showed an increase in lysis index (97% ± 0.3 versus 92 ± 0.5; P < 0.001; mean and SEM) and procalcitonin (2.5 ng/ml ± 0.5 versus 30.6 ± 8.7; P < 0.001). Clot-formation time, alpha angle, maximum clot firmness, as well as interleukin 6 and C-reactive protein concentrations were not different between groups; clotting time was slightly prolonged. ROC analysis demonstrated an area under the curve (AUC) of 0.901 (CI 0.838-0.964) for the lysis index, and 0.756 (CI 0.666-0.846) for procalcitonin. The calculated cut-off for the lysis index was > 96.5%, resulting in a sensitivity of 84.2%, and a specificity of 94.2%, with an odds ratio of 85.3 (CI 21.7-334.5).

Conclusions: The thromboelastometry lysis index proved to be a more reliable biomarker of severe sepsis in critically ill adults than were procalcitonin, interleukin 6, and C-reactive protein. The results also demonstrate that early involvement of the hemostatic system is a common event in severe sepsis.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • C-Reactive Protein / metabolism*
  • Calcitonin / biosynthesis
  • Calcitonin / blood*
  • Calcitonin Gene-Related Peptide
  • Cohort Studies
  • Critical Illness*
  • Female
  • Hemolysis
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-6 / blood*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Protein Precursors / biosynthesis
  • Protein Precursors / blood*
  • Sepsis / blood*
  • Sepsis / diagnosis*
  • Thrombelastography / methods*
  • Thrombelastography / standards
  • Up-Regulation / physiology


  • Biomarkers
  • CALCA protein, human
  • Interleukin-6
  • Protein Precursors
  • Calcitonin
  • C-Reactive Protein
  • Calcitonin Gene-Related Peptide