How is sepsis diagnosed?

At the beginning of the diagnosis is the focus search: The doctor assesses whether and, if so, where in the body an infection may be present. In order to support the findings, a wide variety of diagnostic procedures are used - always depending on the type of suspected infection: e.g. X-ray or computer tomography (CT) images, ultrasound or laparoscopy (examination of the abdominal cavity).

Blood cultures and, if possible, a microbiological smear from the site of infection are taken to determine the causative agent of the infection and effective antibiotics. Vital signs such as temperature and heart rate as well as inflammatory values in the blood can provide further information on whether an infection is present. To diagnose possible organ failure, the doctor performs a clinical examination of the patient. This includes measuring the blood pressure and respiratory rate. Further laboratory tests follow.

The diversity of sepsis and the problems in differentiating it from other diseases that are associated with similar symptoms make it difficult to make a clear diagnosis.