Diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers of sepsis in critical care.
J Antimicrob Chemother. 2011 Apr;66 Suppl 2:ii33-ii40
Authors: Kibe S, Adams K, Barlow G
Sepsis is a leading cause of mortality in critically ill patients. Delay in diagnosis and initiation of antibiotics have been shown to increase mortality in this cohort. However, differentiating sepsis from non-infectious triggers of the systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS) is difficult, especially in critically ill patients who may have SIRS for other reasons. It is this conundrum that predominantly drives broad-spectrum antimicrobial use and the associated evolution of antibiotic resistance in critical care environments. It is perhaps unsurprising, therefore, that the search for a highly accurate biomarker of sepsis has become one of the holy grails of medicine. Procalcitonin (PCT) has emerged as the most studied and promising sepsis biomarker. For diagnostic and prognostic purposes in critical care, PCT is an advance on C-reactive protein and other traditional markers of sepsis, but is not accurate enough for clinicians to dispense with clinical judgement. There is stronger evidence, however, that measurement of PCT has a role in reducing the antibiotic exposure of critical care patients. For units intending to incorporate PCT assays into routine clinical practice, the cost-effectiveness of this is likely to depend on the pre-implementation length of an average antibiotic course and the subsequent impact of implementation on emerging antibiotic resistance. In most of the trials to date, the average baseline duration of the antibiotic course was longer than is currently standard practice in many UK critical care units. Many other biomarkers are currently being investigated. To be highly useful in clinical practice, it may be necessary to combine these with other novel biomarkers and/or traditional markers of sepsis.
PMID: 21398306 [PubMed - in process]