The procalcitonin (PCT) test is a diagnostic tool used in medicine to detect bacterial infections. Procalcitonin is the biomarker that plays a pivotal role in the etiology of infections. Though it is mostly produced in the thyroid gland, neuroendocrine cells release procalcitonin as a response to bacterial infections. A procalcitonin test determines your blood's procalcitonin level. Procalcitonin levels in your blood are typically relatively low. However, your blood's normal PCT levels may increase if you have sepsis or a severe infection.
Procalcitonin is a biomarker that helps distinguish between bacterial and viral infections. Elevated procalcitonin levels are often indicative of a bacterial infection, while viral infections usually show lower levels. It aids healthcare professionals in determining the appropriate treatment course and avoiding unnecessary antibiotic use.
Procalcitonin levels can indeed increase rapidly within hours of infection or injury, peak at around 6 hours, and remain elevated for 8 to 24 hours before gradually returning to baseline in 2 to 3 days. However, these timeframes can vary depending on the individual and the specific situation.
High procalcitonin levels are primarily caused by bacterial infections. Conditions such as severe sepsis, pneumonia, urinary tract infections, and other bacterial-related infections can elevate procalcitonin. Additionally, non-infectious factors like surgery, trauma, or severe inflammation can also lead to increased procalcitonin levels. It's important to note that procalcitonin is not typically elevated in viral infections.
Key blood tests for sepsis include CBC, procalcitonin, blood culture, lactate, CRP, and coagulation tests. Prompt testing is vital for timely intervention
Yes, procalcitonin can be elevated without an active infection. Non-infectious factors like surgery, trauma, severe inflammation, and certain medical conditions can also cause an increase in procalcitonin levels.