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Sepsis Testing FAQs

Practical aspects of PCT testing

  Frequently asked questions Answers
PCT induction and kinetics

Rapid increase after bacterial infection

Half-life time in vivo

PCT increases ~3 hours after bacterial infection, reaching maximum values after 6-12 hours.2,21

About 24 hours

Patient monitoring
with PCT
Frequency of PCT measurement for PCT patient monitoring Minimum once per day
  Interpretation of PCT concentrations during infectious disease monitoring* of high-risk patients, e.g. after extended surgery or polytrauma Low PCT levels or significant reduction of primarily increased PCT levels (e.g.after extended surgery) during the following days by ~50% per day to reach low values after a couple of days
No infectious complication
material and stability
Sample material for PCT measurement

Human serum or plasma may be used.21 *
PCT values measured in patient samples of arterial blood are ~4% higher than in samples from venous blood.21

Current assay formats are suitable for use with human serum or plasma only. Other human body fluids or samples from other species cannot be used.


In vitro stability

At room temperature

At -20 °C

Freeze/thaw, 3 cycles

Very stable in vitro, no special requirements for pre-analytical sample handling and storage 21

~2% decomposition rate during the first two hours after blood collection,
~10% decomposition during the first 24 hours

Stable for 6 months

< 2% loss of PCT in the sample


2. Christ-Crain M, Müller B. Procalcitonin in bacterial infections – hype, hope or more or less? Swiss Med Wkly
2005; 135: 451-60.

4. Harbarth S, Holeckova K, Froidevaux C, Pittet D, Ricou B, Grau GE, Vadas L, Pugin J; Geneva Sepsis Network.
Diagnostic value of procalcitonin, interleukin-6, and interleukin-8 in critically ill patients admitted with
suspected sepsis. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2001;164:396-402.

11. Stuber F. Lecture, 21st International Symposium on Intensive Care and Emergency Medicine (ISICEM),
Brussels, 2001.

12. Luyt CE, Guerin V, Combes A, Trouillet JL, Ayed SB, Bernard M, Gibert C, Chastre J. Procalcitonin kinetics
as a prognostic marker of ventilator-associated pneumonia. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2005;171:48-53.

15. Christ-Crain M, Stolz D, Bingisser R, Muller C, Miedinger D, Huber PR, Zimmerli W, Harbarth S, Tamm M,
Muller B. Procalcitonin Guidance of Antibiotic Therapy in Community-acquired Pneumonia: A Randomized
Trial. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2006;174:84-93.

21. Meisner M. Procalcitonin (PCT) – A new, innovative infection parameter. Biochemical and clinical aspects.
Thieme; Stuttgart, New York, 2000; ISBN 3-13-105503-0.

22. Falcoz PE, Laluc F, Toubin MM, Puyraveau M, Clement F, Mercier M, Chocron S, Etievent JP. Usefulness of
procalcitonin in the early detection of infection after thoracic surgery. Eur J Cardiothorac Surg 2005; 27: 1074-8.


Watch the inspiring video of sepsis survivor Patricia Cragen and her family as they experience a once in a lifetime event at Strike Out Sepsis Day with the St. Louis Cardinals on August 31, 2015. Watch Video >

See highlights from the Second National Forum on Sepsis, held September 16, 2015 in Washington, DC, and learn more about the Rory Staunton Foundation’s initiatives to raise awareness and knowledge about sepsis. Watch Video >


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