OBJECTIVES:Following surgery, it is difficult to distinguish a postoperative inflammatory reaction from infection. This study examined the predictive value of the biomarkers; procalcitonin, C-reactive protein, lactate, neutrophils, lymphocytes, platelets, and the biphasic activated partial thromboplastin time waveform in diagnosing bacterial infection following cardiac surgery. DESIGN:Prospective, observational study. SETTING:A regional, PICU in the United Kingdom. PATIENTS:Three-hundred sixty-eight children under the age of 16 admitted to the PICU for elective cardiac surgery were enrolled in the study. INTERVENTIONS:All biomarker measurements were determined daily until postoperative day 7. Children were assessed for postoperative infection until day 28 and divided into four groups: bacterial infection, culture-negative sepsis, viral infection, and no infection. We used the Kruskal-Wallis test, chi-square test, analysis of variance, and area under the curve in our analysis. MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS:In total, 71 of 368 children (19%) developed bacterial infection postoperatively, the majority being surgical site infections. In those with bacterial infection, procalcitonin was elevated on postoperative days 1-3 and the last measurement prior to event compared with those without bacterial infection. The most significant difference was the last measurement prior to event; 0.72 ng/mL in the bacterial infection group versus 0.13 ng/mL in the no infection group (for all groups; p < 0.001). Longitudinal profiles of all biomarkers were indistinct in the bacterial infection and nonbacterial infection groups except in those with culture-negative infections who had distinct procalcitonin kinetics on postoperative days 1-4. Children with culture-negative sepsis required longer ventilatory support and PICU stay and were more likely to develop complications than the other groups. CONCLUSIONS:None of the biomarkers studied within 3 days of infection distinguished between infection and postoperative inflammatory reaction. However, procalcitonin kinetics peaked on postoperative day 2 and fell more sharply than C-reactive protein kinetics, which peaked at postoperative day 3. The monitoring of procalcitonin kinetics following cardiac surgery may help guide rational antimicrobial use.
Pediatric critical care medicine : a journal of the Society of Critical Care Medicine and the World Federation of Pediatric Intensive and Critical Care Societies
School of Medicine, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, United Kingdom.