Which lab tests are performed in the workup of bacterial sepsis?

Updated: Feb 05, 2019
  • Author: Amber Mahmood Bokhari, MBBS; Chief Editor: Michael Stuart Bronze, MD  more...
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A diagnosis of sepsis is based on a detailed history, physical examination, laboratory and microbiology testing, and imaging studies.

Laboratory studies that may be considered include the following:

  • Complete blood (CBC) count - May show elevated or low white blood cell count, anemia, and/or thrombocytopenia
  • Chemistry studies, such as markers of liver or kidney injury - May suggest organ dysfunction
  • Bacterial cultures - Blood cultures and site-specific cultures based on clinical suspicion (eg, wound culture, sputum culture, or urine culture)
  • Stained buffy coat smears or Gram staining of peripheral blood - May be helpful in certain infections
  • Urine studies (urinalysis, microscopy, urine culture)
  • Certain biomarkers, such as procalcitonin [5, 6, 7] and presepsin [8] - May be useful in diagnosing early sepsis and in determining prognosis

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