Efficacy and Safety of Procalcitonin Guidance in Patients With Suspected or Confirmed Sepsis: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Critical Care Medicine. Dec 21 2017


Sepsis is a leading cause of mortality in noncoronary ICUs. Although immediate start of antibiotics reduces sepsis-related mortality, antibiotics are often administered for too long, leading to suboptimal treatment and, importantly, contributes to antimicrobial resistance. Prior literature suggests that procalcitonin correlates with infection and thus may help to guide the decision on when to stop antibiotic treatment. This study was conducted as part of a regulatory submission to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and aimed to summarize the evidence of procalcitonin guidance on efficacy and safety outcomes in adult patients with sepsis.


PubMed and the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews.


English-language randomized controlled trials evaluating procalcitonin use among adult patients with suspected or confirmed sepsis published between January 2004 and May 2016.


Inverse-variance weighting fixed and random effects meta-analyses were performed on the following efficacy and safetyendpoints: antibiotic duration, all-cause mortality, and length of ICU stay. Two reviewers independently extracted data elements from identified studies and measured risk of bias with the Cochrane Risk of Bias Tool.


From a total of 369 potentially eligible articles, 10 randomized controlled trials containing 3,489 patients were used for analysis. Procalcitonin-guided patients had shorter antibiotics duration compared with controls (7.35 vs. 8.85 d; weighted mean difference, -1.49 d; 95% CI, -2.27 to -0.71; p < 0.001). Procalcitonin use had no adverse impact on mortality (risk ratio, 0.90; 95% CI, 0.79-1.03; p = 0.114) and length of ICU stay (11.09 d vs. 11.91 d; weighted mean difference, -0.84 d; 95% CI, -2.52 to 0.84; p = 0.329).


In adult patients with suspected or confirmed sepsis, procalcitonin guidance reduces antibiotics duration with no observed adverse effects on patient outcomes.

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Iankova I, Thompson-Leduc PKirson NYRice B, Hey J, Krause A, Schonfeld SA, DeBrase CR, Bozzette S, Schuetz P