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Also known as Serum Procalcitonin
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Understanding Procalcitonin

What is Procalcitonin?

A Procalcitonin test measures the level of procalcitonin (PCT), a type of protein that the body produces in response to bacterial infections. This test helps distinguish between bacterial and viral infections, offering valuable insights about the nature of the infection. By doing so, it contributes to more effective and targeted treatment decisions.

Procalcitonin (PCT) is a precursor protein to the hormone calcitonin, typically produced by the thyroid gland under normal conditions. Under ordinary circumstances, PCT exists at low levels in the blood. However, during severe bacterial infections or sepsis, PCT levels rise significantly, serving as a valuable biomarker for microbial infection diagnosis. 

Apart from bacterial infections, where PCT levels increase markedly, mild to moderate elevation in PCT levels is observed in various other conditions. These include injury, burns, inflammation, kidney infections, pancreatitis, urinary tract infections, meningitis, tissue damage due to trauma, and heart attack, among others. 

A Procalcitonin test is primarily used when there is a suspicion of a systemic infection affecting the entire body, especially in cases of severe illness. Typically employed in hospital settings, particularly for individuals in emergency rooms or those already admitted, the test assists in determining whether bacteria or a virus is the cause behind the infection. It is noteworthy that Procalcitonin test is not used for detecting routine infections but rather in cases where there is a suspicion of a severe microbial infection, helping doctors to differentiate between bacterial and viral causes and guiding appropriate treatment decisions. 

Procalcitonin test is often conducted when there are symptoms suggestive of a severe bacterial infection or sepsis, such as fever, chills and shivering, rapid heart rate, low blood pressure, difficulty breathing, confusion, etc. Furthermore, Procalcitonin test is advised for individuals who are at higher risk of getting infections or sepsis including infants, children, older adults, and those with weakened immune systems or with underlying medical problems. Additionally, Procalcitonin test is valuable for monitoring the therapeutic response to antibacterial therapy.

No special preparation is required before undertaking a Procalcitonin test. However, it is suggested to inform your doctor about any medications or supplements you are currently taking, as these may influence the test results. 

Lab test results may vary across different laboratories. Abnormal test results require an expert interpretation, therefore, never try to self-medicate at home based solely on these results, and always consult a doctor for proper understanding of the test results. The insights from Procalcitonin test will help your doctor make informed decisions regarding the management of your condition. If necessary, the results may guide the prescription of medications like antibiotics ensuring a tailored and effective approach towards your condition.

What is Procalcitonin used for?

A Procalcitonin test is done: 

  • To help diagnose severe bacterial infections or sepsis.

  • To differentiate between bacterial and viral infections.

  • To help indicate systemic infections affecting the entire body. 

  • To help monitor the therapeutic response to antibacterial therapy.

  • For individuals at a heightened risk of infections, including infants, children, older adults, or those with weakened  immune systems or underlying illnesses.

  • To assess the risk of progression from critical illness to severe sepsis and septic shock.

  • To diagnose kidney infections in children with urinary tract infections.

  • To identify secondary bacterial infection in  individuals with tissue damage  from trauma surgery, or viral illnesses like pneumonia.

What does Procalcitonin measure?

The Procalcitonin test is useful for early detection of sepsis and severe bacterial infections. PCT serves as a crucial indicator, rising around 3 hours after exposure to a proinflammatory stimulus or bacterial infection and peaking after 6 to 8 hours. This helps distinguish bacterial infections from other causes, facilitating the diagnosis and effective management of various infectious diseases. 

Interpreting Procalcitonin results



Normal range (approx.): Below 0.15 ng/mL

Below 0.50 ng/mL: Low risk of severe sepsis

0.50 to 2.00 ng/mL: Borderline risk of severe sepsis

Above 2.00 ng/mL: High risk of severe sepsis

Reference range may vary from lab to lab*

Procalcitonin is almost undetectable in a normal healthy individual. Hence, the results of the Procalcitonin Test are to be interpreted in combination with other tests and clinical findings.


Answers to Patient Concerns & Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Procalcitonin

Frequently Asked Questions about Procalcitonin

Q. Why is the Procalcitonin test performed?

The Procalcitonin test is performed to detect sepsis and severe bacterial infections in their early stages. PCT is a marker that increases in response to bacterial infections, making it useful in distinguishing bacterial-induced inflammation from other causes.

Q. Is there any risk associated with a Procalcitonin test?

There is usually no risk associated with a Procalcitonin test. However, some individuals may feel a slight sting when a needle is pricked to collect a blood sample and may also experience some bleeding that is normal and usually not bothersome. Rarely, some individuals may also experience slight swelling or bruising at the site of the needle prick.

Q. What is sepsis?

Sepsis is a life-threatening condition where the body’s immune response to an infection causes widespread inflammation, leading to potential tissue damage, organ failure, and if not treated promptly death.

Q. What are the common symptoms of sepsis?

The most common symptoms that may indicate a systemic bacterial infection or sepsis include fever with shivering or chills, rapid heart rate, rapid breathing, confusion, low blood pressure, skin rash, warm and sweaty skin, and body ache.

Q. Who is at risk of developing sepsis?

Individuals at higher risk of developing sepsis include those with weakened immune systems, the elderly, infants, individuals with chronic medical conditions, and those who have undergone surgical procedures or have severe injuries.

Q. What happens if my PCT level is high?

A high procalcitonin (PCT) level may indicate the presence of a severe bacterial infection, often associated with conditions like sepsis. High PCT levels are a signal for potential serious infections that require timely medical attention.

Q. What is the difference between PCT and C- reactive protein (CRP)?

PCT and CRP are both markers of inflammation, but they have different roles in the body. PCT is more specific to bacterial infections and can rise rapidly, particularly in severe cases like sepsis. CRP on the other hand, is a general marker of inflammation and can increase in response to various conditions, including infections, but it is not as specific for bacterial infections as PCT.
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Procalcitonin test price for other cities

Price inKolkataRs. 2449
Price inGurgaonRs. 1500
Price inMumbaiRs. 2449
Price inBangaloreRs. 2449
Price inNoidaRs. 2850
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  1. Cleland DA, Eranki AP. Procalcitonin. [Updated 2023 Apr 23]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK539794/ External Link
  2. Samsudin I, Vasikaran SD. Clinical Utility and Measurement of Procalcitonin. Clin Biochem Rev. 2017 Apr;38(2):59-68. PMID: 29332972; PMCID: PMC5759088. [Accessed 12 Dec. 2023]. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5759088/ External Link
  3. Lee H. Procalcitonin as a biomarker of infectious diseases. Korean J Intern Med. 2013 May;28(3):285-91. [Accessed 12 Dec. 2023]. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3654123/ External Link
  4. Samsudin I, Vasikaran SD. Clinical Utility and Measurement of Procalcitonin. Clin Biochem Rev. 2017 Apr;38(2):59-68. PMID: 29332972; PMCID: PMC5759088 [Accessed 12 Dec. 2023]. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5759088/#:~:text=CRP%20is%20a%20conventional%20biomarker,in%20response%20to%20 IL%2D6.&text=Its%20concentration%20in%20blood%20begins,half%2Dlife%20of%2019%20h. External Link
  5. Vijayan AL, Vanimaya, Ravindran S, Saikant R, Lakshmi S, Kartik R, G M. Procalcitonin: a promising diagnostic marker for sepsis and antibiotic therapy. J Intensive Care. 2017 Aug 3;5:51. [Accessed 12 Dec. 2023]. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5543591/ External Link
  6. What is Sepsis [Internet]. CDC; 24 Aug. 2023 [Accessed 30 Nov. 2023]. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/sepsis/what-is-sepsis.html External Link
  7. Bullock B, Benham MD. Bacterial Sepsis. [Updated 2023 May 21]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK537054/ External Link
  8. Evans T. Diagnosis and management of sepsis. Clin Med (Lond). 2018 Mar;18(2):146-149. doi: 10.7861/clinmedicine.18-2-146. PMID: 29626019; PMCID: PMC6303466. [Accessed 12 Dec. 2023]. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6303466/ External Link
  9. Gregoriano C, Heilmann E, Molitor A, Schuetz P. Role of procalcitonin use in the management of sepsis. J Thorac Dis. 2020 Feb;12(Suppl 1):S5-S15. doi: 10.21037/jtd.2019.11.63. PMID: 32148921; PMCID: PMC7024752. [Accessed 12 Dec. 2023]. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7024752/ External Link


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