Volume 40, Issue 1 (January 1995)

    Vitreous Humor Cocaine and Metabolite Concentrations: Do Postmortem Specimens Reflect Blood Levels at the Time of Death?

    (Received 15 May 1994; accepted 8 June 1994)

    CODEN: JFSOAD

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    Abstract

    The interpretation of postmortem cocaine concentrations is made in an attempt to estimate drug concentrations present at the time of death and thus infer not only drug presence but drug toxicity. Previous data suggest that changes in postmortem blood cocaine concentrations over time are not predictable and interpretation of cocaine levels should be done with caution. However, these data come from autopsy case series where vital information, such as blood cocaine concentration at the time of death, dose and time since last use, and postmortem interval is often not known. The purpose of this study was to characterize postmortem changes in cocaine and metabolite concentrations relative to premortem concentrations over time at two anatomic sites: peripheral blood and vitreous humor, in a controlled, large animal model. Juvenile swine were given cocaine HCl 10 mg/kg as an IV bolus which resulted in seizures and wide complex tachycardia. Five minutes after cocaine administration, animals were euthanized. At time of death and eight hours postmortem, femoral venous blood and vitreous humor (VH) samples were obtained for quantitation of cocaine, benzoyl ecgonine (BE), and ecgonine methyl ester (EME) by GC/MS. There were no significant increases over time in mean femoral vein concentrations of cocaine or BE. However, a large interanimal variability in direction and magnitude of concentration changes was seen. Mean EME concentrations at the femoral site increased significantly over 8 hours (P < 0.03). Mean VH cocaine concentrations at time of death were significantly lower than corresponding blood concentrations (P < 0.02). However, 8 hour postmortem VH cocaine concentrations increased in all animals and were similar to the femoral blood concentrations at time of death. These results emphasize the variability in postmortem cocaine concentrations and the need to consider the site of collection and postmortem interval as variables in interpreting postmortem cocaine and metabolite concentrations relative to premortem values.


    Author Information:

    Gomez, HF
    Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Center, Denver General Hospital, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Denver, CO

    Brent, J
    Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Center, Denver General Hospital, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Denver, CO

    MacIntyre, M
    Childrens Mercy Hospital, Toxicology Laboratory, Kansas City, MO

    McKinney, PE
    Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Center, Denver General Hospital, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Denver, CO

    Phillips, S
    Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Center, Denver General Hospital, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Denver, CO

    Watson, WA
    University of Missouri, Kansas City, MO


    Stock #: JFS13770J

    ISSN: 0022-1198

    DOI: 10.1520/JFS13770J

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    Author
    Title Vitreous Humor Cocaine and Metabolite Concentrations: Do Postmortem Specimens Reflect Blood Levels at the Time of Death?
    Symposium , 0000-00-00
    Committee E30