Utility of procalcitonin in a medical intensive care unit in Croatia

Wien Klin Wochenschr. 2021 Aug;133(15-16):832-839. doi: 10.1007/s00508-020-01747-1. Epub 2020 Oct 6.


Aims: To investigate the clinical benefit of routine procalcitonin (PCT) measurement in the medical intensive care unit (ICU) of a tertiary referral hospital.

Methods: Adult patients with suspected infections were included. White blood cells, C‑reactive protein (CRP), and PCT were measured.

Results: In this study 129 patients of median age 64 years (interquartile range 39-89 years) were prospectively included. The Acute Physiology And Chronic Health Evaluation II (APACHE II) and Sequential Organ Failure Assessment (SOFA) scores were 21 ± 14 and 7 ± 6, respectively. Intensive care unit (ICU) mortality was 22.5%. Immunocompromised patients constituted 39.5%. A significant correlation was observed between PCT and APACHE II (Spearman's rho 0.461, p < 0.01), PCT and SOFA (Spearman's rho 0.494, p < 0.01) and PCT and CRP (Spearman's rho 0.403, p < 0.01). Most patients (n = 83, 64.3%) received antibiotics before admission. No difference in PCT (1.56 ± 8 µg/L vs. 1.44 ± 13 µg/L, p = 0.6) was observed with respect to previous antibiotic therapy. Levels of PCT and CRP were significantly increased in patients with positive blood cultures, the infection caused by Gram-negative microorganism regardless of disease severity and pneumonia with complications. PCT did not differ among patients with positive vs negative urine culture (4.6 ± 16 µg/L vs. 1.76 ± 11.9 µg/L) or positive vs. negative endotracheal aspirate (1.93 ± 11.4 µg/L vs. 1.76 ± 1.11 µg/L). PCT-guided stewardship was applied in 36 patients (28%).

Conclusion: Increased initial PCT levels might point to the development of more severe disease caused by Gram-negative bacteria, regardless of previous antibiotic treatment. The results pertain to immunocompetent and immunocompromised patients. Implementation of PCT-guided stewardship in those patients is possible and relies on experience as well as knowledge of reference change value for a marker within the specific setting.

Keywords: Biomarker; Critical illness; Pneumonia; Procalcitonin; Sepsis.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Croatia / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units
  • Middle Aged
  • Procalcitonin*
  • Prognosis
  • ROC Curve
  • Sepsis*


  • Procalcitonin