Procalcitonin levels rise in response to systemic inflammation, especially of bacterial origin. Multiple randomized controlled trials have demonstrated that procalcitonin-based algorithms can safely reduce antibiotic use in 2 clinical scenarios. First, in stable, low-risk patients with respiratory infections, procalcitonin levels of <0.25 µg/L can guide the decision to withhold antibiotics or stop therapy early. Second, in critically ill patients with suspected sepsis, clinicians should not initially withhold antibiotics, but procalcitonin levels of <0.5 µg/L or levels that decrease by ≥80% from peak can guide discontinuation once patients stabilize. The recent stop antibiotics on procalcitonin guidance study (SAPS), the largest procalcitonin trial to date, demonstrated reduction in both antibiotic exposure and mortality in critically ill patients. Although procalcitonin is ready for routine use, future research should examine optimal strategies for implementation in hospitals, its real-world impact on clinical outcomes and costs, its applicability to immunocompromised patients, and the generalizability of trials to the US population.
Open Forum Infect Dis
Using Procalcitonin to Guide Antibiotic Therapy.