Background Procalcitonin is used in pediatric emergency departments for the early diagnosis of invasive bacterial infections, especially for febrile children.
Aim of the Study To evaluate the usefulness of a rapid semiquantitative test of procalcitonin for the diagnoses of invasive diseases at children.
Methods We have prospectively evaluated 25 patients divided into two groups: 1) group A with 6 patients having viral infections and 2) group B with bacterial infections comprised of 19 patients. For this group we had a score made of leucocytes over 16000/mm3, granulocytes over 12000/mm3, erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) > 50 mm/h and C reactive protein (CRP) > 2.4 mg/dl, procalcitonin (CPT) >0.5ng/ml.
Results The analysis of ROC curves shows the degree in which inflammatory tests may distinguish between the two groups. This suggests that the quality of separation between the two groups was 0.86 for CPT, 0.85 for CRP, 0.67 for leucocytes, 0.62 for granulocytes and 0.82 for ESR (p<0.001).
Conclusion Procalcitonin has a higher specificity and sensitivity compared to the other acute phase reactants (leucocyte number, neutrophil number, ESR and CRP respectively). Procalcitonin may be considered in the emergency department as a valuable diagnostic tool in order to distinguish between viral and bacterial infections at children.