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      Procalcitonin guided antibiotic therapy and hospitalization in patients with lower respiratory tract infections: a prospective, multicenter, randomized controlled trial

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          Lower respiratory tract infections like acute bronchitis, exacerbated chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and community-acquired pneumonia are often unnecessarily treated with antibiotics, mainly because of physicians' difficulties to distinguish viral from bacterial cause and to estimate disease-severity. The goal of this trial is to compare medical outcomes, use of antibiotics and hospital resources in a strategy based on enforced evidence-based guidelines versus procalcitonin guided antibiotic therapy in patients with lower respiratory tract infections.

          Methods and design:

          We describe a prospective randomized controlled non-inferiority trial with an open intervention. We aim to randomize over a fixed recruitment period of 18 months a minimal number of 1002 patients from 6 hospitals in Switzerland. Patients must be >18 years of age with a lower respiratory tract infections <28 days of duration. Patients with no informed consent, not fluent in German, a previous hospital stay within 14 days, severe immunosuppression or chronic infection, intravenous drug use or a terminal condition are excluded. Randomization to either guidelines-enforced management or procalcitonin-guided antibiotic therapy is stratified by centre and type of lower respiratory tract infections. During hospitalization, all patients are reassessed at days 3, 5, 7 and at the day of discharge. After 30 and 180 days, structured phone interviews by blinded medical students are conducted. Depending on the randomization allocation, initiation and discontinuation of antibiotics is encouraged or discouraged based on evidence-based guidelines or procalcitonin cut off ranges, respectively. The primary endpoint is the risk of combined disease-specific failure after 30 days. Secondary outcomes are antibiotic exposure, side effects from antibiotics, rate and duration of hospitalization, time to clinical stability, disease activity scores and cost effectiveness. The study hypothesis is that procalcitonin-guidance is non-inferior (i.e., at worst a 7.5% higher combined failure rate) to the management with enforced guidelines, but is associated with a reduced total antibiotic use and length of hospital stay.


          Use of and prolonged exposure to antibiotics in lower respiratory tract infections is high. The proposed trial investigates whether procalcitonin-guidance may safely reduce antibiotic consumption along with reductions in hospitalization costs and antibiotic resistance. It will additionally generate insights for improved prognostic assessment of patients with lower respiratory tract infections.

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          Most cited references 24

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          Soluble triggering receptor expressed on myeloid cells and the diagnosis of pneumonia.

          The diagnosis and treatment of bacterial pneumonia in patients who are receiving mechanical ventilation remain a difficult challenge. The triggering receptor expressed on myeloid cells (TREM-1) is a member of the immunoglobulin superfamily, and its expression on phagocytes is specifically up-regulated by microbial products. The presence of soluble TREM-1 (sTREM-1) in bronchoalveolar-lavage fluid from patients receiving mechanical ventilation may be an indicator of pneumonia. We conducted a prospective study of 148 patients receiving mechanical ventilation in whom infectious pneumonia was suspected. A rapid immunoblot technique was used to measure sTREM-1 in bronchoalveolar-lavage fluid. Two independent intensivists who were unaware of the results of the sTREM-1 assay determined whether community-acquired pneumonia and ventilator-associated pneumonia were present or absent. The final diagnosis was community-acquired pneumonia in 38 patients, ventilator-associated pneumonia in 46 patients, and no pneumonia in 64 patients. The presence of sTREM-1 by itself was more accurate than any clinical findings or laboratory values in identifying the presence of bacterial or fungal pneumonia (likelihood ratio, 10.38; sensitivity, 98 percent; specificity, 90 percent). In multiple logistic-regression analysis, the presence of sTREM-1 was the strongest independent predictor of pneumonia (odds ratio, 41.5). In patients receiving mechanical ventilation, rapid detection of sTREM-1 in bronchoalveolar-lavage fluid may be useful in establishing or excluding the diagnosis of bacterial or fungal pneumonia. Copyright 2004 Massachusetts Medical Society
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            Diagnostic and prognostic accuracy of clinical and laboratory parameters in community-acquired pneumonia

            Background Community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) is the most frequent infection-related cause of death. The reference standard to diagnose CAP is a new infiltrate on chest radiograph in the presence of recently acquired respiratory signs and symptoms. This study aims to evaluate the diagnostic and prognostic accuracy of clinical signs and symptoms and laboratory biomarkers for CAP. Methods 545 patients with suspected lower respiratory tract infection, admitted to the emergency department of a university hospital were included in a pre-planned post-hoc analysis of two controlled intervention trials. Baseline assessment included history, clinical examination, radiography and measurements of procalcitonin (PCT), highly sensitive C-reactive protein (hsCRP) and leukocyte count. Results Of the 545 patients, 373 had CAP, 132 other respiratory tract infections, and 40 other final diagnoses. The AUC of a clinical model including standard clinical signs and symptoms (i.e. fever, cough, sputum production, abnormal chest auscultation and dyspnea) to diagnose CAP was 0.79 [95% CI, 0.75–0.83]. This AUC was significantly improved by including PCT and hsCRP (0.92 [0.89–0.94]; p < 0.001). PCT had a higher diagnostic accuracy (AUC, 0.88 [0.84–0.93]) in differentiating CAP from other diagnoses, as compared to hsCRP (AUC, 0.76 [0.69–0.83]; p < 0.001) and total leukocyte count (AUC, 0.69 [0.62–0.77]; p < 0.001). To predict bacteremia, PCT had a higher AUC (0.85 [0.80–0.91]) as compared to hsCRP (p = 0.01), leukocyte count (p = 0.002) and elevated body temperature (p < 0.001). PCT, in contrast to hsCRP and leukocyte count, increased with increasing severity of CAP, as assessed by the pneumonia severity index (p < 0.001). Conclusion PCT, and to a lesser degree hsCRP, improve the accuracy of currently recommended approaches for the diagnosis of CAP, thereby complementing clinical signs and symptoms. PCT is useful in the severity assessment of CAP.
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              Measurement of midregional proadrenomedullin in plasma with an immunoluminometric assay.

              Adrenomedullin (ADM) is a potent vasodilatory peptide, and circulating concentrations have been described for several disease states, including dysfunction of the cardiovascular system and sepsis. Reliable quantification has been hampered by the short half-life, the existence of a binding protein, and physical properties. Here we report the technical evaluation of an assay for midregional pro-ADM (MR-proADM) that does not have these problems. MR-proADM was measured in a sandwich immunoluminometric assay using 2 polyclonal antibodies to amino acids 45-92 of proADM. The reference interval was defined in EDTA plasma of 264 healthy individuals (117 male, 147 female), and increased MR-proADM concentrations were found in 95 patients with sepsis and 54 patients with cardiovascular disease. The assay has an analytical detection limit of 0.08 nmol/L, and the interassay CV was 0.12 nmol/L. The assay was linear on dilution with undisturbed recovery of the analyte. EDTA-, heparin-, and citrate-plasma samples were stable (<20% loss of analyte) for at least 3 days at room temperature, 14 days at 4 degrees C, and 1 year at -20 degrees C. MR-proADM values followed a gaussian distribution in healthy individuals with a mean (SD) of 0.33 (0.07) nmol/L (range, 0.10-0.64 nmol/L), without significant difference between males or females. The correlation coefficient for MR-proADM vs age was 0.50 (P < 0.001). MR-proADM was significantly (P < 0.001) increased in patients with cardiovascular disease [median (range), 0.56 (0.08-3.9) nmol/L] and patients with sepsis [3.7 (0.72-25.4) nmol/L]. MR-proADM is stable in plasma of healthy individuals and patients. MR-proADM measurements may be useful for evaluating patients with sepsis, systemic inflammation, or heart failure.

                Author and article information

                BMC Health Serv Res
                BMC Health Services Research
                BioMed Central (London )
                5 July 2007
                : 7
                : 102
                [1 ]Department of Internal Medicine and Department of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Clinical Nutrition, University Hospital Basel, Petersgraben 4, 4031 Basel, Switzerland
                [2 ]Basel Institute of Clinical Epidemiology (BICE), University Hospital Basel, Petersgraben 4, 4031 Basel, Switzerland
                [3 ]Departement of Internal Medicine Bürgerspital Solothurn, Schöngrünstrasse 42, 4500 Solothurn, Switzerland
                [4 ]Departement of Internal Medicine Kantonsspital Liestal, Rheinstrasse 26, 4410 Liestal, Switzerland
                [5 ]Departement of Internal Medicine Kantonsspital Aarau, Tellstrasse, 5001 Aarau, Switzerland
                [6 ]Departement of Internal Medicine Kantonsspital Luzern, Spitalstrasse, 6000 Luzern 16, Switzerland
                [7 ]Departement of Internal Medicine Kantonsspital Münsterlingen, 8596 Münsterlingen, Switzerland
                Copyright © 2007 Schuetz et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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