Procalcitonin as a prognostic marker in meningococcal disease
Objective. To assess the prognostic value of procalcitonin levels during the clinical course of meningococcal disease in children.
Design. A retrospective, descriptive study.
Setting. University paediatric intensive care unit.
Patients. Nine patients with meningococcal sepsis and 55 patients with meningococcal septic shock were included in the study, giving a total of 64.
Measurements and results. Procalcitonin (PCT), C-reactive protein (CRP), cytokines (IL-6, IL-8 and TNF-α), plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 (PAI-1) and several routine laboratory parameters were determined and expressed as medians (ranges). PCT levels on hospitalisation were elevated in all children as compared to normal values. Median PCT levels on admission were significantly higher in children with septic shock than in children with sepsis (270 ng/ml (5.7–672.3) versus 64.4 (20.6–283.7); p<0.01). When the patients were categorised to severity using the Pediatric Risk of Mortality (PRISM) score (group 1: <15 points, group 2: 16–30, group 3: >30), the PCT levels were significantly different in the three groups. All markers, with the exception of PCT (p=0.056), were significantly different between survivors and non-survivors. When the duration of petechiae was taken into account, the difference in PCT levels became significant (p=0.04).
Conclusions. Procalcitonin levels on admission are related to severity. In the case of a short disease history (duration of petechiae), PCT levels are also related to mortality. Although PCT levels are elevated in all patients, the levels per se do not allow a prediction about survival versus non-survival, this is in contrast to other markers and scores (PRISM).
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