Serum Procalcitonin Level Reflects the Severity of Cellulitis

Ann Dermatol. 2016 Dec;28(6):704-710. doi: 10.5021/ad.2016.28.6.704. Epub 2016 Nov 23.


Background: Cellulitis is a common bacterial infection of the superficial skin. Procalcitonin is one of the precursor proteins of calcitonin, its levels are elevated in bacterial infection, and it has been established as a diagnostic marker for severe bacterial infections.

Objective: This study evaluated the clinical usefulness of procalcitonin for predicting disease severity and prognosis of cellulitis.

Methods: We reviewed the medical records of 160 patients diagnosed with cellulitis in the past 3 years. Body temperature, procalcitonin, white blood cell (WBC), erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), and C-reactive protein (CRP) levels were measured on their first day of admission. The associations of procalcitonin, WBC, ESR, and CRP with the body temperature and the number of hospitalized days were assessed.

Results: Procalcitonin, WBC, and CRP showed a positive correlation with body temperature. In addition, procalcitonin, WBC, ESR, and CRP showed a positive correlation with number of hospitalized days (p<0.05).

Conclusion: In patients diagnosed with cellulitis, proclacitonin was a helpful parameter to indicate the severity of disease and also a useful predictor of prognosis.

Keywords: Cellulitis; Procalcitonin.