Analytical Chemistry In Postmortem Toxicology

Analytical toxicology is an applied science.1-4 Toxicologists must be familiar not only with the effects and toxic mechanisms involved in poisoning, but also with the metabolism of drugs, the chemical properties of parent drugs and their metabolites, and the composition of biological samples. The detection and measurement of toxicologically relevant concentrations of potent new drugs require the use of analytical techniques on the forefront of instrumental technology.5-9

Immunoassay technology, now a mainstay of drug screening protocols, first became commercially available only about 25 years ago.10-14 At that time, classical thin-layer chromatography (TLC),15-23 packed column gas chromatography,24,25 strip chart recorders, and ultraviolet-visible spectrophotometry were the state of the art in toxicology laboratories.26-29 Over the intervening years, capillary column gas chromatography,30-44 solid-phase extraction technology,46-53 nitrogen-phosphorus gas chromatography detectors,42,43,54,55 high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC),56-74 ion trap mass spectrometry,75-79 and computerized mass spectrometry have become essential to the practice of postmortem toxicology.80,99

New technology is continually being introduced. Mass spectrometry is evolving to tandem mass spectrometry, and is being interfaced to liquid chromatographs.92,100-106 Chemical ionization, in both positive and negative ion modes, is increasingly used in the mass spectral analysis of drugs and poisons.107-119 Robotic technology is used to increase efficiency of sample processing while maintaining and documenting sample integrity.120-123 At the same time, the proliferation of ever more

Table 3.1 Comparison of Frequently Used Methods for Analysis of Biosamples

Identification: Structural

Table 3.1 Comparison of Frequently Used Methods for Analysis of Biosamples

Identification: Structural

Method

Specificity

Sensitivity

Multiple Drugs

Analysis (Qualitative)

Quantitative Analysis

Labor

Expertise

Color tests

+

+

Yes

+

Some

+

+

0 0

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