Background: Procalcitonin (PCT) is a specific biomarker for early detection of bacterial infections. While the usefulness of procalcitonin in severe conditions such as sepsis is well established, its relevance in the diagnosis and prognosis of localized cutaneous bacterial infections is unknown. Our aim was to initially evaluate if PCT is a useful parameter for predicting the severity of skin and skin structure infections (SSSI). Furthermore, the correlation of PCT levels with C-reactive protein (CRP), leukocyte counts, erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), and body temperature was investigated.
Patients and methods: Serum PCT, routine laboratory parameters, and body temperature were regularly examined in 50 consecutive patients with SSSI requiring inpatient intravenous antibiotic treatment. Patients were classified into 2 groups according to the guidelines developed by the FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) as having either an uncomplicated (SSSI) or a complicated skin and skin structure infection (cSSSI).
Results: No significant correlation could be detected between the length of inpatient antibiotic treatment and PCT on days 1, 2, 3, and the maximum value on these days. The same result was found when uncomplicated SSSI and complicated SSSI (cSSSI) were evaluated separately. However, PCT levels were significantly higher in the latter. Furthermore, PCT levels showed a significant correlation with CRP, leukocyte count, ESR, and body temperature.
Conclusion: PCT might be a useful additional tool for initial diagnosis and monitoring of patients with SSSI.
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