Author(s): van Leeuwen MA, van Rijswijk MH
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Abstract The acute phase reaction is in most circumstances a good indicator of (local) inflammatory activity and tissue damage. CRP is a direct and quantitative measure for the acute phase reaction and due to its fast kinetics provides adequate information of the actual situation. The ESR on the contrary is in fact an indirect measure of the acute phase reaction. It does react much slower to changes of inflammatory activity and is influenced by a number of other factors. From studies on the 'behaviour' of CRP it has become clear that diseases may differ with regard to the extent in which they induce an acute phase response. Incidental measurement of the CRP level may add to the diagnostic procedure in selected cases, e.g. in the differentiation between a bacterial and a viral infection or between a bacterial infection and an exacerbation of diseases like SLE. In case of an extremely elevated CRP level (> 100 mg/litre) the possibility of a bacterial infection should always be considered. In clinical practice CRP is particularly useful when serial measurements are performed. The course of the CRP level may be useful for the monitoring of the effect of treatment and for the early detection of postoperative complications or intercurrent infections. The relationship between CRP and the local production and effects of cytokines on the one hand, and the possible functional role of CRP in the inflammatory process on the other hand have surely added a dimension to the clinical use of CRP as a parameter of inflammatory activity.
This article was published in Baillieres Clin Rheumatol
and referenced in Emergency Medicine: Open Access