ANCHOR LEAD: A NEW TEST MAY REVEAL WHO REALLY NEEDS AN ANTIBIOTIC, ELIZABETH TRACEY REPORTS
Who really needs an antibiotic and who should be advised to wait it out? That question plagues physicians everywhere, from EDs to intensive care units to clinics. Now a diagnostic test being studied largely in Europe may provide objective evidence. Redonda Miller, an internal medicine expert at Johns Hopkins, explains that the test is based on a chemical called procalcitonin.
MILLER: Procalcitonin is a chemical or a compound that is made by the c cell of the thyroid gland and it’s a precursor of calcitonin. It’s cleaved to form calcitonin and another couple substances and the procalcitonin component really never leaves the thyroid gland in healthy individuals. However, if an individual is sick the procalcitonin molecules are released and can actually rise to very high blood levels. :30
The test measures procalcitonin levels and then these are used to assess whether an antibiotic should be given. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.