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Procalcitonin Test

Procalcitonin Test

also known as: PCT

The Procalcitonin test is popularly known by the name PCT and is highly effective in diagnosing bacterial Sepsis. Procalcitonin is a peptide precursor to the hormone calcitonin and consists of 116 amino acids. It is normally produced by the thyroid gland. The PCT levels increase in the blood due to severe bacterial infection as the immune cells also start producing them. PCT is regarded as the best biomarker for diagnosing severe systemic inflammation, infection and sepsis. This test is also ordered in the case of pneumonia or meningitis and for diagnosing urinary tract infections in children.

Wear a half-sleeved shirt on as full-sleeved shirt might pose difficulty in pulling up the sleeves. Do not wear sweater or jacket. No special preparation is required for this test and you can continue any medication that you are taking by informing your doctor. If your blood sample is needed for other tests then fasting may be required in some cases. Please kindly follow the instructions given by the lab.

The PCT test is conducted to detect severe sepsis infection, bacterial infections like pneumonia & meningitis or to detect urinary tract infections in children.

Reference Range: PCT< 0.05 UG/L for normal persons.


  • If PCT<0.5 UG/L then, systemic infection (sepsis) is not likely. There is a possibility of local bacterial infection.
  • If PCT >= 0.5 UG/L - < 2 UG/L then, sepsis is possible but other infectious conditions may not be ruled out.
  • If PCT >=2 UG/L - <10 UG/L then, systemic infection sepsis is likely unless other causes are known.
  • If PCT >= 10 UG/L then, Important systemic inflammatory response almost exclusively due to severe bacterial sepsis or septic shock.

About 1 ml or just 2 teaspoons of the blood sample will be drawn from your body. This test needs to be conducted in a well-equipped diagnostic lab or medical centre with PCT testing facility. The skin on the arm is cleaned with an alcohol pad. In the next step, the needle will be inserted into the body through the vein which is easily visible over the cleaned skin. The blood sample will be collected through the tube attached to the needle which contains the serum gel. The tube is separated from the needle and closed with a lid and with the patient’s name on it. The blood sample tube is shaken down to remove serum from the clot and then it is sent to the research laboratory for examination.

LimitationsProcalcitonin is not indicated to be used as a stand-alone diagnostic assay to determine the risk of 28-day all-cause mortality.Increased PCT levels may not always be related to systemic infection. These include, but are not limited to:• Patients experiencing major trauma and/or recent surgical procedure including extracorporeal circulation or burns• Patients undergoing treatment with OKT3 antibodies, OK-432, interleukins, TNF-alpha, and other drugs that stimulate the release of proinflammatory cytokines or result in anaphylaxis• Patients diagnosed with active medullary C-cell carcinoma, small cell lung carcinoma, or bronchial carcinoid• Patients with acute or chronic viral hepatitis and/or decompensated severe liver cirrhosis (Child-Pugh Class C)• Patients with prolonged or severe cardiogenic shock, prolonged severe organ perfusion anomalies, or after resuscitation from cardiac arrest• Patients receiving peritoneal dialysis or hemodialysis treatment; patients with biliary pancreatitis, chemical pneumonitis or heat stroke• Patients with invasive fungal infections (eg, candidiasis, aspergillosis) or acute attacks of Plasmodium falciparum malaria• Neonates during the first two days of lifeThe results of the procalcitonin test should be evaluated in the context of all laboratory findings and the total clinical status of the patient.In cases where laboratory results do not agree with the clinical picture or history, additional tests should be performed.There is no uniformly recognized interpretation of the change in PCT concentration levels for the prediction of mortality, and overall mortality is strongly dependent on many factors, including preëxisting patient risk factors and clinical course.The need to continue ICU care at Day four and other covariates (eg, age, SOFA score) are also significant predictors of 28-day cumulative mortality risk.The assay is unaffected by icterus (bilirubin <428 μmol/L or <25 mg/dL), hemolysis (Hgb <0.559 mmol/L or <0.900 g/dL), lipemia (Intralipid <1500 mg/dL) and biotin (<123 nmol/L or <30 ng/mL). Recovery was within 15% of the initial value.Samples from patients routinely exposed to animals or animal serum products may contain heterophilic antibodies causing an atypical result. This assay has been formulated to mitigate the risk of this type of interference; however, potential interactions between rare sera and test components can occur.In rare cases, interference due to extremely high titers of antibodies to analyte-specific antibodies, streptavidin or ruthenium can occur. These effects are minimized by suitable test design. In vitro tests were performed on 27 commonly used pharmaceuticals. No interference with the assay was found.
Serum or plasma, frozen
0.8 mL
Red-top tube, gel-barrier tube, green-top (lithium heparin) tube, or lavender-top (EDTA) tube.
Type Gender Age-Group Value
All age groups
< 0.15ng/ml
Average price range of the test is between Rs.1800 to Rs.3680 depending on the factors of city, quality and availablity.

Table of Content

What is Procalcitonin Test?
Preparation for Procalcitonin Test
Uses of Procalcitonin Test
Procedure for Procalcitonin Test
Limitations of Procalcitonin Test
Specimen Requirements
Normal values for Procalcitonin Test
Price for Procalcitonin Test
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Popular Questions & Answers

I am 52 yrs female. In hscrp test I get 10.5 points. Is it leads to heart problem. If so what prevention measures I have to taken. Kindly advice.

M B B S, M. D (Internal Medicine)
General Physician, Nellore
Yes, it is an indication that there is a high degree of inflammation going on which puts you at risk for heart disease in future. First, get a checkup for heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, dyslipidemia and obesity. Check if you have any other chronic inflammatory conditions. They can also give such results. Hs crp is not a specific test for heart disease. After detailed evaluation, treatment will be advised accordingly by your doctor.