Role of procalcitonin in viral and bacterial meningitis

Nipun Saproo, Roma Singh


Background: Meningitis is one of the most common central nervous system infections by bacteria, virus or fungus encountered in infants and children.Early diagnosis of meningitis and differentiation of bacterial from non-bacterial/ viral meningitis tends to play an important role in the emergency management of children with suspected meningitis. While cerebrospinal fluid analysis is popular, along with biomarkers: C-reactive protein and white blood cell count, serum procalcitonin seems to offer an even better specificity.

Methods: A hospital based cross-sectional-study was conducted in department of neurology in collaboration with department of pathology, Medanta, Medicity, Gurugram, for a period of one year from March 2018 to 2019. 100 children aged 4 months to 12 years, with suspected meningitis were enrolled. The study group was further subdivided into two groups, based upon their bacteriological profile: bacterial meningitis and viral meningitis.

Results: For both the groups, the common clinical presentations were fever (100% and 96.88%), convulsions (58.33% and 45.31%), vomiting (25% and 43.75%), The demographic and clinical profile of the 2 groups was largely comparable. Serum PCT levels were significantly higher in bacterial meningitis group compared to non-bacterial meningitis with p<0.001. The sensitivity of serum PCT was found to be 97% and superior to CRP in terms of accuracy in identification and to assess the severity. Procalcitonin is an ideal marker with highest accuracy for bacterial infections.

Conclusions: Serum PCT can act as a more sensitive and specific diagnostic tool in early differentiation of bacterial from non-bacterial meningitis in children.


Meningitis, Procalcitonin, Cerebrospinal fluid, C-reactive protein

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