Other names: PCT

Procalcitonin is made during the production of calcitonin; calcitonin is a thyroid hormone. Calcitonin is made by special C-cells in the thyroid gland and is usually present in very small quantities in the bloodstream. In some instances, for example, when a person has a systemic or whole body bacterial infection or sepsis, other cells may start to produce procalcitonin; other health conditions and trauma may also increase procalcitonin production.

Why is the test used?

The test is used primarily to determine whether a patient is developing sepsis but it may also be used to investigate bacterial meningitis.

The test is usually ordered when a patient has symptoms of sepsis, including chills, nausea, confusion, racing heart beat and rapid breathing.

How is the test done?

The test is done by collecting a sample of the patient’s blood and sending it away to the laboratory for analysis. The sample is usually taken from a vein on the inside of the elbow, using a needle and a syringe.

What do the test results show?

If levels of procalcitonin are low or normal, this indicates that the patient has a very low risk of developing sepsis; however, if the patient has symptoms, the doctor may request further tests and the patient will be monitored closely.

If levels of procalcitonin are high, this indicates that the patient has a high risk of developing sepsis.

If the levels of procalcitonin are slightly higher than normal, this may indicate that the patient has a recent infection, which has not yet spread to other parts of the body; their condition will be monitored closely if this is the case.

If the test has been used to monitor patients who are having therapy, a decrease in the amount of procalcitonin shows that the treatment is working.

Specific Blood Tests

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