Procalcitonin and C-reactive protein in pericardial fluid for postmortem diagnosis of sepsis

Schrag, Bettina ; Iglesias, Katia ; Mangin, Patrice ; Palmiere, Cristian

In: International Journal of Legal Medicine, 2012, vol. 126, no. 4, p. 567-572

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    The aim of this study was to investigate the presence and concentrations of procalcitonin and C-reactive protein in pericardial fluid and compare these levels to those found in the postmortem serum obtained from the femoral blood. Two groups were formed, a sepsis-related fatalities group and a control group. Postmortem native CT scans, autopsies, histology, neuropathology and toxicology as well as other postmortem biochemistry investigations were performed in all cases. Pericardial fluid procalcitonin levels were significantly different between the cases of sepsis-related fatalities and those of the control group. Postmortem serum procalcitonin levels below the detection limit were also reflected in undetectable pericardial fluid levels. Similarly, a large increase in postmortem serum procalcitonin levels was reflected in a large increase of procalcitonin pericardial fluid levels. Based on these findings, pericardial fluid could be an alternative to postmortem serum for the determination of procalcitonin levels in cases where postmortem serum is not available and measurements of procalcitonin are required to circumstantiate the pathogenesis of death