Background. Urinary tract infection
(UTI) in young children
carries the risk of parenchymal damage and sequelae. The location of the infection within the urinary tract influences decisions regarding both therapeutics and follow-up. Because clinical features and laboratory markers of infection at an early age are not specific, it is difficult to make a distinction between lower UTI and acute pyelonephritis. Procalcitonin
(PCT) has been studied as a marker of severe bacterial infection. The aim of this study was to test the usefulness of PCT concentration in serum to distinguish between uncomplicated UTI and severe acute pyelonephritis with renal scars
PCT was measured by immunoluminometric assay in serum samples from children
with microbiologically documented infection. Severe renal involvement was assessed by 99m
Tc-dimercaptosuccinic acid gammagraphy done 5 to 6 months after the episode to check for the presence of parenchymal scars. C-reactive protein (CRP) and leukocyte count were also measured.
PCT at presentation showed a significant correlation (P
< 0.001) with the presence of renal scars
with UTI. Using a cutoff of 1 ng/ml for PCT and 20 mg/l for CRP, sensitivity and specificity in distinguishing between urinary tract infection
with and without renal damage were 92.3 and 61.9%, respectively, for PCT and 92.3 and 34.4% for CRP. Positive and negative predictive values were 32 and 97.5%, respectively, for PCT and 23 and 95%, respectively, for CRP.
A low PCT value at admission indicates a low risk of long term renal scarring. Increased PCT values at admission correlate with the presence of scars. PCT values have proved to be more specific than CRP and leukocyte count for identifying patients who might develop renal damage.