Role of serum procalcitonin as a marker for diagnosing neonatal sepsis


  • Haniya Jafar Department of Microbiology, King George’s Medical University, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India
  • Jyotsna Agarwal Department of Microbiology, King George’s Medical University, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India
  • Raj Kumar Kalyan Department of Microbiology, King George’s Medical University, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India
  • Shruti Radera Department of Microbiology, King George’s Medical University, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India
  • Sheetal Verma Department of Microbiology, King George’s Medical University, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India
  • Mala Kumar Department of Pediatrics, King George’s Medical University, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India
  • Shalini Tripathi Department of Pediatrics, King George’s Medical University, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India



Blood culture, C reactive protein, Neonatal sepsis, Procalcitonin


Background: Neonatal sepsis is a continuing problem causing significant burden on health care, especially in developing world. As blood culture has low sensitivity in diagnosis of neonatal sepsis, strong clinical suspicion along with combination of different laboratory tests is required. The data available for extensively studied acute phase reactant, procalcitonin (PCT) remains controversial. This study was done to assess role of PCT alone and in combination with different tests for diagnosing neonatal sepsis.

Methods: Blood samples of 275 neonates (>35 weeks of gestation) admitted to NICU, with suspicion of neonatal sepsis were collected for bacterial culture, serum procalcitonin level and sepsis screen (CRP, mESR, I/T ratio, Total Leucocyte Count, Absolute Neutrophil Count).

Results: Blood culture was positive in 30.5% of enrolled neonates. At a cut-off value of 0.5 ng/ml the sensitivity, specificity, PPV, NPV of serum PCT in neonatal sepsis cases was 73.8%, 47.1%, 48%, 80.4% respectively. Serum PCT was found raised in 60 (48.8%) clinically suspected cases of neonatal sepsis where sepsis screen and blood culture both were negative, also it was not raised in 17 (32.7%) of clinically suspected cases of septicemia where both blood culture and sepsis screen were positive. Amongst other individual tests, CRP was found to have best sensitivity (79.7%) and NPV (85%) followed by PCT (73.8% and 80.4%) while best specificity was found for I/T ratio (93.7%) followed by mESR (89%) for diagnosis of neonatal sepsis with positive blood culture. Best NPV was seen for combination of PCT+CRP+I/T ratio (95.6%) for the suspected cases of neonatal sepsis.

Conclusions: Thus, we conclude that serum PCT can play a useful role when combined with other test markers but may not find its way as a sole diagnostic marker for diagnosing neonatal sepsis in term/near term babies.


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