Diagnostic test accuracy of point-of-care procalcitonin to diagnose serious bacterial infections in children

Thomas Waterfield, Julie-Ann Maney, Mark D Lyttle, P. McKenna James, Damian Roland, Michael Corr, Bethany Patenall, Michael D. Shields, Kerry Woolfall, Derek Fairley

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Background: The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) have called for research into the role of biomarkers, and specifically procalcitonin (PCT), for the early diagnosis of serious bacterial infections (SBI) in children. The aim of this study was to compare the diagnostic test accuracy of C-reactive protein (CRP) and PCT for the diagnosis of SBI in children. Methods: Data was collected prospectively from four UK emergency departments (ED) between November 2017 and June 2019. Consecutive children under 18 years of age with fever and features of possible sepsis and/or meningitis were eligible for inclusion. The index tests were PCT and CRP and the reference standard was the confirmation of SBI. Results: 213 children were included in the final analysis. 116 participants (54.5%) were male, and the median age was 2 years, 9 months. Parenteral antibiotics were given to 100 (46.9%), three (1.4%) were admitted to a paediatric intensive care unit and there were no deaths. There were ten (4.7%) confirmed SBI. The area under the curve for PCT and CRP for the detection of SBI was identical at 0.70. Conclusions: There was no difference in the performance of PCT and CRP for the recognition of SBI in this cohort
Original languageEnglish
Article number487
Pages (from-to)487
Number of pages6
JournalBMC pediatrics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 22 Oct 2020


  • Adolescent
  • Bacterial Infections/diagnosis
  • Biomarkers
  • C-Reactive Protein/analysis
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Diagnostic Tests, Routine
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Point-of-Care Systems
  • Procalcitonin
  • Prospective Studies

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