Diagnosing bacterial infection in the unwell or febrile child is a common challenge faced by all paediatricians. Despite the advent of novel molecular techniques, there is ongoing need for diagnostic assays with adequate performance and turnaround time to facilitate safe clinical decision-making when bacterial sepsis is suspected, such as whether to commence empirical treatment with antibiotics. Procalcitonin is an established marker of infection that has a potential role in the diagnosis and exclusion of serious or invasive bacterial infection in neonates and children. Although enthusiastically adopted in many countries and institutions, national guidance in the UK does not yet support its routine use. This article reviews the relevant literature on the use of procalcitonin measurement in common paediatric clinical scenarios.
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