Procalcitonin: A valuable predicator for lethal respiratory failure

High levels or persistent elevation of PCT in patients with severe pneumonia usually results in death. According to a study in Respirology published by Wiley-Blackwell, Procalcitonin (PCT) levels in patients are indicative of survival rates, proving to be a valuable prognostic factor of Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS).

The paper, "Procalcitonin is a valuable prognostic marker in ARDS caused by community-acquired pneumonia", measured PCT levels in 22 patients to study its role in predicting the outcome of patients with ARDS caused by community-acquired pneumonia (CAP). It finds that non-surviving patients not only have higher levels of PCT at baseline, but also in the following days.

Lead author, Dr. Chieh-Liang Wu says, "Life threatening Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) is commonly caused by severs community-acquired pneumonia (CAP). There is currently no single biomarker acting as an independent prognostic factor of ARDS due to CAP but high levels or persistent elevation of PCT in the patient's blood is fatal."

PCT is associated with an increased rate of evolution of septic shock, multi-organ dysfunction and mortality in intensive care patients admitted for severe CAP. PCT levels aid in differentiating the causes of inflammation and help guide prescription levels of antibiotics - particularly when attempting to reduce the patient's total dosage. It can also predict bacteraemia and assess the severity of CAP in patients.

Dr. Wu adds, "Although there was no single biomarker that can act as a prognostic factor of ARDS, the present study shows that PCT can effectively evaluate and predict the severity of ARDS caused by CAP making it a valuable biomarker marker."

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